Once deployed from balloons or aircraft, eMotes will transmit ultra-low power signals in one of the industrial, scientific, and medical radio bands to avoid expensive licensing requirements. The fixed or mobile receiver platforms will contain hardware and software to gather and process data from multiple eMotes within range and store or retransmit the information to other locations.
GlobalSense system innovation is based on the continuing trend for ubiquitous sensing also known as the Internet of Things – extremely large numbers of low-cost electronic devices that measure various parameters and communicate for many applications.
The novel eMote design minimizes cost, complexity, size, mass, power requirements, and fall speed. The eMote target mass is one gram or less with size on the order of centimeters. Given such low mass and an aerodynamic shape, eMotes can remain airborne and make measurements for an hour or more depending on atmospheric conditions and release altitude. In addition to minimizing fall speed, these specifications also greatly reduce hazards to people, property, and aircraft as eMotes drift through the air and settle on land or water.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently funded Mano NanoTechnologies, Inc., through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, to build and demonstrate the GlobalSense system. Initial eMote prototypes will be fabricated using commercial off-the-shelf materials and components that pose no significant environmental hazards. The longer range vision is to leverage biodegradable electronics including batteries so that eMotes have near zero environmental impact. This design goal is highly innovative and important if large numbers of eMotes are deployed around the world.
The underlying framework for modern-day weather forecasting is numerical weather prediction (NWP). Even the current and planned weather observing platforms leave gaps that are insufficient to meet the requirements of NWP. The GlobalSense system will enable transformational forecast improvements by filling these critical data gaps and benefit a range of weather-sensitive sectors including energy, transportation, agriculture, forest fire management, construction, insurance, and tourism.
With the appropriate chemical sensors integrated on eMote platforms, the GlobalSense system could monitor air quality and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane for global climate change initiatives. Even broader potential involves measuring parameters of interest for surveillance, reconnaissance, and security related applications. The modular and interoperable system design makes it relatively straightforward to integrate other sensors that have the appropriate specifications. Given this flexibility, it is possible to meet diverse customer requirements with minimal additional investments in time and money.
The conference presentation will highlight efforts to develop and test prototype eMote and receiver station components during the first six months of the NOAA project. It will conclude with project milestones for a field experiment to demonstrate a complete prototype GlobalSense system in the atmosphere and future plans to develop a fully operational system for different weather applications.