SMARTSonde: A Small Multi-function Autonomous Research and Teaching Sonde
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 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.
For this presentation, we begin by discussing the overall concept, development, and initial implementation of the SMARTSonde platform. The initial airframe consists of a commercial off the shelf (COTS) park glider. It has been modified to include the autopilot system and meteorological sensors. 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. After showing some initial results from the SMARTSonde, we will present the design of the airframe, which is being specifically designed for boundary layer and radar validation studies. It will be capable of accommodating additional meteorological sensors and supporting a wider array of meteorological experiments. On-going and future research directions will be discussed.