Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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64 unmanned systems inside   October/November 2016 MARINE INNOVATION lites. It has been working with NASA to study the atmosphere with dropsondes launched from a Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. The system was developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) with fund- ing from Hood's office. NASA's Global Hawk can carry up to 90 dropsondes, deploying them from altitudes of up to 65,000 feet. As they fall they collect high vertical resolution measure- ments of the temperature, pressure, relative humidity and wind speed and direction in the atmosphere. This year the Global Hawk was used to look at storms that were further, so far offshore, it was the only plane out there, said Gary Wick, NOAA's chief scientist on the program. "Our data helped the Hurricane Center say 'Hey, this is a hurricane now, it's no longer a tropical storm.'," Wick said. SHOUT More recently Wick has been researching how the Global Hawk might be used to replace the data lost if something happened to any the weather satellites. "We have new weather satellites that we're going to be launching in the next year or so," said Hood, including an improved GOES geo- stationary satellite and new polar-orbiting spacecraft. "So these are building upon pre- vious capabilities but also bringing improved technologies." Should anything happen to those satellites, however, there needs to be a plan to deal with the data loss, Hood suggested. "Once people get used to using the new sat- ellite—or they're looking forward to using the new satellite, and then it's not available—then how are you going to fill that gap?" she said. Satellite problems are not that unusual. There are rocket mishaps and technical prob- lems that push back launch schedules as well as malfunctions that can put a spacecraft into the wrong orbit. The U.S. government is also increasingly concerned that international tensions could trigger conf licts in space that might directly or indirectly lead to the loss of space infrastructure. NOA A began its three-year Sensing Haz- ards with Operational Unmanned Technology or SHOUT program in 2015 looking at using a high-altitude, long endurance UAS to help maintain weather forecasting for specific types of serious weather events. "The overall goal of SHOUT…is to evaluate the utility of unmanned aircraft like the Global Hawk to either improve forecasts of high-im- pact weather events or, more particularly, look at what impact it could have on the forecast if there should be a gap in our satellite coverage," Wick said. The NOAA team is collecting data to sup- port denial studies and running computer simulations trying out new observing systems to see their potential value. "That (approach) is really important for sat- ellite missions given the cost of deploying a satellite," Wick said. "You know you like to be able to evaluate in advance what the potential impact of the observations would be. So we've got an element of that as well." NASA and NOAA are also looking at plat- forms other than the Global Hawk and weigh- ing the costs and operational effectiveness of Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman NOAA is working with NASA to test whether the Global Hawk could provide weather forecast data should a weather satellite fail. "THEY DETECT THEM and they send the coordinates to the Mexican Navy and the Mexican Navy is busting them." Philip McGillivary, science liaison, US Coast Guard Pacific Area/Dept. Homeland Security

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