Manned aircraft operation at low-level boundary-layer flights is very limited. Dropsondes and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) are alternates for measurements near the ocean surface. However, dropsondes have limited sensor capability and do not measure fluxes, and most present UAS vehicles do not have the payload and power capacity or the low-flying ability in high winds over the oceans. Measurements from ships and other ocean surface-based platforms are prone to flow distortions and wave induced motion. Therefore, the CTV which is essentially a non-intrusive platform fills a crucial gap between surface measurements, dropsondes, in situ aircraft, and UAS. The payload, capacity and power of the CTV makes it suitable for a variety of atmospheric research measurements. Other sensors to measure aerosol, chemistry, radiation, etc., could be readily accommodated in the CTV.
We will briefly discuss the CTV development, the engineering challenges and solutions that have been successfully implemented to overcome them and make the CTV a fully operational platform. We will present results from recent CTV flights inside the surface layer during the Coupled Air Sea Processes and EM ducting Research (CASPER) experiment off Duck, NC and the CASPER-Pilot experiment off Monterey Bay, CA.