Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Solar-Powered Aircraft Begins Science Missions In Hawaii

Date:
November 4, 1997
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
Pathfinder, NASA's solar-powered, remotely piloted aircraft, has begun conducting a series of up to four science mission flights to highlight the aircraft's science capabilities while collecting imagery of forest and coastal zone ecosystems on Kauai, HI.

Related Articles


Pathfinder, NASA's solar-powered, remotely piloted aircraft, has begun conducting a series of up to four science mission flights to highlight the aircraft's science capabilities while collecting imagery of forest and coastal zone ecosystems on Kauai, Hawaii.

    Remotely piloted aircraft similar to Pathfinder could spend long periods of time over the ocean, monitoring storm developments to provide more accurate predictions of hurricanes.  These aircraft also could be used to monitor major croplands, forests and other large, remote expanses to provide early warning of crop damage or fires.

    The Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai, is the staging base for these flights as part of NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program, based at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA.  Kauai was chosen as an optimum location for testing Pathfinder due to high levels of solar irradiance, available airspace and radio frequency, and diversity of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems.

    Major science activities of Pathfinder, the first flight of which occurred on Oct. 25, include detection of forest nutrient status, forest regrowth from Hurricane Iniki, sediment/algal concentrations in coastal waters and assessment of coral reef health.  The science activity is being coordinated by NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, and involves researchers at the University of Hawaii and University of California.  The flights will conclude just before Thanksgiving.

    The flights will test two new scientific instruments, a high spectral resolution Digital Array Scanned Interferometer (DASI) and a high spatial resolution Airborne Real-Time Imaging System (ARTIS).  The remote sensor payloads were designed by Ames to support NASA's Mission to Planet Earth science programs.  The flights will be conducted at altitudes between 22,000-49,000 feet.

    "This will be the first time that we have flown these two new sensor systems," said Steve Wegener, Ames' manager of the payloads and science element of the program.

    DASI, a remote sensing instrument that looks at reflected spectral intensities from the Earth, will be used to study such things as plant stress, constituents in coastal zone waters and coral reef health.  Measuring 30 inches long and ten inches in diameter, DASI weighs less than 25 pounds and mounts beneath Pathfinder's wing.

    The ARTIS payload is built around a digital camera, which has a six-million-pixel array, enabling it to take high quality digital photographs.  The camera has a variety of potential science and commercial applications, such as documenting flood surges, geologic features and crop stress, according to Wegener.

    Both sensors are designed to be small, lightweight and interactive, in compliance with ERAST program goals of miniaturizing flight payloads.  "These new sensor technologies are being developed for use in the next generation of remotely piloted aircraft," Wegener said.  These and other new sensor systems are designed to complement high altitude studies of atmospheric ozone, land-cover change and natural hazard studies conducted by NASA's Earth Resources Survey aircraft.

    Pathfinder recently set an altitude record for propeller-driven flight of over 71,500 feet.  "Pathfinder's performance to date has exceeded our wildest expectations," said the programΥs manager Jenny Baer-Riedhart.  "We beat our altitude milestone by 6,500 feet in the first two flights this summer and demonstrated the capability for science mission demonstrations in a remote, tropical location."

    Pathfinder is one of several remotely piloted aircraft being evaluated under the ERAST program.  The program focuses on developing technologies required to operate subsonic unpiloted aircraft at high altitude for long-duration flights.

    "Remotely piloted aircraft have the potential to do the dull, dirty and dangerous missions where you wouldn't want to put a pilot at risk," Wegener said.

    Pathfinder is a flying wing with a span of 99 feet.  Small pods extending below the wing's center section can carry a variety of scientific sensors.  Solar arrays on the upper wing surface can provide as much as 7,200 watts of power at high noon on a summer day to power the craft's six electric motors and other electronic systems.  A backup battery system can provide power for up to five hours to fly the craft after sundown.  Pathfinder was designed, manufactured and is operated by AeroVironment, Inc., of Simi Valley, CA, under a jointly sponsored research agreement with NASA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA's Solar-Powered Aircraft Begins Science Missions In Hawaii." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971104063340.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (1997, November 4). NASA's Solar-Powered Aircraft Begins Science Missions In Hawaii. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971104063340.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA's Solar-Powered Aircraft Begins Science Missions In Hawaii." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971104063340.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins