34th Conference on Radar Meteorology


SMARTSonde: A Small UAS Platform to Support Radar Research

Phillip B. Chilson, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and A. M. Gleason, B. Zielke, N. Feng, M. Yeary, P. M. Klein, and W. Shalamunec

The availability of atmospheric measurements over large spatial domains provides unquestionable value to meteorological studies; however, the acquisition of such data is not always easy to achieve. One typically relies on remote sensing instruments (radars, lidars, sodars, radiometers) or in-situ probes carried by balloons or piloted aircraft. An alternative to these traditional approaches is the use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS). Research groups have recognized the benefits of adopting a UAS-based approach for making atmospheric observations and there are several on-going projects to this effect around the world.

Recently the University of Oklahoma (OU) Atmospheric Radar Research Center (ARRC) began developing a UAS platform in order to support several of its on-going research projects. It was desired to produce a platform that 1) is inexpensive and easy to deploy; 2) able to collect in-situ atmospheric measurements along either controlled or pre-configured flight paths; 3) capable of autonomous flight; and 4) supports real-time full-duplex communication (including data transfer) with a ground station. Furthermore, the design should also be one that facilitates plenty of interdisciplinary student involvement. All of these criteria have been successfully realized through a new project called SMARTSonde (Small Multi-function Autonomous Research and Teaching Sonde). As the name suggests, it is intended to incorporate SMARTSonde into a variety of research areas including measurements of the atmospheric boundary layer, the validation of radar-based estimates of atmospheric parameters, radar calibration, and so forth. Currently the SMARTSonde platform is only capable of measuring pressure, temperature, and humidity; however, height profiles of these values can already be used, for example, to validate radar retrievals of refractivity. Additional measurement capabilities are planned. For this presentation, we begin by discussing the design, development, and initial implementation of the SMARTSonde platform. After showing some initial results from the SMARTSonde, various meteorological applications and future research directions will be considered.

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wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Session 12B, Radar Platforms
Thursday, 8 October 2009, 4:00 PM-5:30 PM, Room 18

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