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October 2018

Photo of the HQ-20 hybrid quadrotor vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capable UAS deployment from the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette.

Development of a Hybrid Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing Fixed Wing Aircraft for Shipboard Operations

In a parallel effort, PMEL is developing an aerosol payload for integration into the HQ-55 with instruments able to measure total particle number concentration, particle number size distribution, aerosol light absorption, solar irradiance and sky radiance, aerosol composition, and meteorological parameters. The payload is modular in design to allow for quick swapping in and out of the UAS so that multiple payloads, each with different measuring capabilities, can be used during a given observation period. A previous version of the payload was flown in the Arctic (Svalbard, Norway) in 2011 and 2015 to investigate climate impacts of soot pollution. Through that work, the aerosol payload transitioned to Technical Readiness Level 8, system demonstration in an operational environment.

First shipboard tests of the HQ-55 with the integrated aerosol payload are planned for Spring 2019 from a NOAA ship. As part of these flights, NOAA AOC pilots will continue training to fly the HQ-55. Through a collaboration between NOAA PMEL, the UAS Program Office, the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, and the SBIR Program Office, the ultimate goal is to provide a VTOL-FW UAS capability within NOAA for use by all line offices through the Aircraft Operations Center.

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Seahunter Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Flights In Northern Alaska

This week collaboration between ESRL PSD researchers Gijs de Boer (CIRES), Janet IntrieriChristopher Cox (CIRES), and Jackson Osborn (CIRES), and the University of Alaska – Fairbanks Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) flight team resulted in extended operation of the SeaHunter unmanned aircraft system over the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea.  The aircraft, carrying the miniFlux payload developed jointly by NOAA PSD and the University of Colorado, set out on a mission from Kuparuk airport to 72.5⁰ N latitude to make important measurements of atmospheric winds and thermodynamic properties as well as map sea ice concentration and sea surface temperature.  These observations support development of understanding of the roles of the ocean and atmosphere in fall sea ice development.  This airborne activity, in conjunction with oceanic assets deployed as part of the U.S. Office of Naval Research Departmental Research Initiative Stratified Ocean Dynamics of the Arctic (SODA), (SODA), will help to shed light on upper oceanic stratification and its connection to winds and sea ice cover. This activity, supported by the NOAA UAS program office and the National Science Foundation, is continuing over the next two weeks as the sea ice continues its seasonal march towards the Alaskan coastline.

Credit for Photos: Jordan W. Murdock, Robert J. Edison

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