Scientific Committee for Oceanographic Aircraft Research (SCOAR)
June 22 and 23, 2010
CIRPAS Facility, Marina, CA
A copy of these minutes is available as a pdf at <201006sco.pdf>.
The Scientific Committee for Oceanographic Aircraft Research (SCOAR) met on June 22-23, 2010 at the CIRPAS Facility in Marina, CA. Dan Schwartz chaired the meeting. This was the first in-person meeting of the Committee since 2006. The meeting focused on re-familiarizing everyone with of the CIRPAS facility and mapping out the future role of SCOAR.
The SCOAR identified the following list of action items (short and long-term):
Meeting Summary Report:
Welcome and Introductions: Day 1, 22 June 2010 – Dan Schwartz, SCOAR Chair, opened the meeting. We learned that the CIRPAS Twin Otter would be leaving for a mission that afternoon, so the agenda was altered so the Committee could tour the aircraft. Haf Johnson provided the tour.
Welcome by SCOAR Chair and Introduction of Participants – Dan Schwartz reconvened the meeting and provided an opportunity for participant introductions. The agenda for the meeting is included as Appendix I and the Participant List is Appendix II.
Dan provided a SCOAR Chair report. His slides are included in Appendix III. He began by reviewing the SCOAR membership. SCOAR was asked to provide suggestions for members who were rotating off the Committee. Steve Ramp suggested Jack Barth (OSU).
Over the past year there have been a variety of Oceanographic Aircraft workshops and meetings of interest:
Dan continued his report with a brief description of the CIRPAS facilities and aircraft. CIRPAS became a UNOLS National Facility on 27 September 2002.
Next Dan highlighted the various aircraft platforms and systems that were presented at the SCOAR Town Hall meeting at the Ocean Sciences meeting in Portland, OR.
Dan showed a video clip of a launch and recovery of UAF Unmanned Aircraft from a NOAA research vessel. The aircraft was Scan Eagle.
Agency Representatives, UNOLS, and CIRPAS Reports:
UNOLS Report –Annette DeSilva provided an update on UNOLS activities and issues. Her slides are included as Appendix IV.
The topics that were covered include:
CIRPAS report - Bob Bluth provided the CIRPAS report. His slides are included as Appendix V.
Bob provided an overview of the CIRPAS Facilities including the Marina Facility and the Camp Roberts Facility. The Camp Roberts Facility costs about $7,500 a week to use the facility. This is restricted airspace and can be used for AUVs. They cannot fly after midnight. Getting additional access for restricted areas is very difficult and probably takes about five years to get set up.
The characteristics and payload of the research aircraft, Twin Otter, were reviewed. There are hard points and pods for ‘research’ or ‘guest’ instruments. The cabin includes racks for ‘research’ and ‘guest’ instruments.
Some examples of CIRPAS scientific instrumentation include a 95 GHz Cloud Radar, Wind Lidar, and Smart Towed Vehicle. New instrumentation includes a stabilized radiometer platform and a micro-sized air-launched expendable meteorological sensor and chaff.
Bob described the CIRPAS Pelican Predator Surrogate that is an ideal training platform. It hasn’t been used much for science.
Bob explained that CIRPAS’ unmanned aircraft vehicles haven’t been used in years. Their operations are limited by the FAA and must comply with the 90-mile line of sight regulation. When you remove the pilot, you still must fill the function of the pilot. Some times this means sending a second plane to observe the UAV.
CIRPAS also has Scan Eagles and these are available to the community.
Bob Bluth suggested that UNOLS could assist with the integration of NSF into the CIRPAS. The meeting participants discussed the agency contacts who might have an interest in CIRPAS. It was suggested that Dan Schwartz and Annette work to schedule a meeting with NSF representatives during the week of the UNOLS fall meetings. It might also be helpful to draft a pamphlet about CIRPAS.
Office of Naval Research (ONR) – Mike Prince provided the report for Tim Schnoor (ONR). Mike reported that Tim is a retired Navy captain at ONR in Facilities and he attended the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). The ONR Research Facilities budget is about $10M and it hasn’t changed for years.
Ken Melville (SIO), who uses the CIRPAS aircraft, joined the SCOAR meeting and was asked for his feedback about the CIRPAS facility. Ken replied:
Š Mike – Are there sensors that are not readily available on the CIRPAS facilities?
Š Ken – He thinks that it is best for the user to bring his/her own equipment. CIRPAS doesn’t have the facilities to do this.
Š Ken – There was one item that he was expecting from CIRPAS, but it was not available – “WINS.” These are essential.
Š Phil – Are there sensors that can measure relative humidity when flying at the surface? Ken – You would probably have to do this by modeling.
Š Ken – In his opinion, turbulence and heat flux sensors are priorities. The hardware, software and user manual should be available.
Š Ken – There is too much work for one person. Haf provides all of the support, science and technical service. More resources are needed.
Š Bluth – The CIRPAS operating costs are based on hanger rent, people costs, etc. Haf keeps the rates low.
Š Ken – Younger people who would like to use the CIRPAS facility won’t have the experience to support a program. They need to rely on Haf.
Š Ken – The mentoring program needs reconsideration.
Š Bob – Keeping people is tough. So far CIRPAS can sustain what they have, but every cost that they have is paid through the operations. The A-10 that is coming from NSF is reimbursable. It is not burdening CIRPAS. NSF will support it for the foreseeable future.
Š Mike – Some of the things that SCOAR should be considering is if the funding mechanism for the Twin Otter is a viable one. SCOAR should consider the future of CIRPAS and who is going to be supported by the facility.
Š Dan –SCOAR should consider what is the optimal model for CIRPAS.
Š Phil – both NOAA and NASA have moved away from the smaller aircraft. This is an area that CIRPAS can fill.
Š Bob Bluth – CIRPAS has six Scan Eagles
Š Mike – There would be interest in supporting a proof of concept experiment for the Scan Eagle deployment from a Navy owned vessel. This would need to be a science program.
Š Ken Melville – Flying UAVs out of Australia may be less logistically complex. South Pacific would be a good area for an experiment. He would be interested in the science UAS proof-of-concept demo.
Š Phil – SCOAR might want to consider organizing a workshop.
Š Steve Ramp – SCOAR might want to consider someone from the National Marine Sanctuary as a workshop guest speaker and ask him or her to speak about his or her plans for their aircraft.
National Science Foundation (NSF) Report – Jim Huning could not attend the meeting, but he provided a set of slides. The slides are included as Appendix VI. The slides include information about the:
Š NSF Sponsored Lower Atmospheric Observing Facilities.
Š The King Air is supported through Cooperative Agreements at the University of Wyoming (King Air)
Š An MOA is in progress to use the CIRPAS Twin Otter at the Naval Post Graduate School. The Twin Otter would be part of the deployment pool.
Š NRL P-3B integrated with ELDORA and supported through an MOA for approved ELDORA field campaigns
Š There are interagency campaigns conducted in collaboration with interagency partners, e.g., NOAA, NASA, NRL, DOE, and EUFAR members.
Š The flight hours for the various craft were reviewed for a grand total of 4182 NSF flight hours.
Š The 2010 planning chart with proposed field campaigns for balance of 2010 and into 2011/12 was included in the slides.
Š The various aircraft used by NSF are listed in the slides.
Š UASs will play an increasing role – recent and extensive use is in the Antarctica.
NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division - Phil McGuillivary presented a summary of the program titled, “Using the Aerosonde UAV during the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season.” His slides are included as Appendix VII. A UAS was used to help the researchers get data that they couldn’t ordinarily get. The Principal Investigator for the project was Joseph J. Cione.
The project goal was to successfully fly an Aerosonde UAV into a tropical cyclone during the 2005 N. Atlantic hurricane season. Funding for the project was from NOAA/OAR, NASA, and the Aerosonde Corporation. The results are included in the slides.
Some of the lessons learned included that the UAS data was continuous and better than the dropsondes. The FAA CoA process took more than 12 months and still requires instrument flight rules.
Next Phil provided a report on “Using Aircraft-Deployed Low Altitude UAS in Tropical Cyclones: Testing in 2009 and plans for 2010-11.” Phil’s slides are included as Appendix VIII. The PIs for the project were Joseph Cione (NOAA/Hurricane Research Division) and Nancy Ash (NOAA/AOC).
The mission plan was to launch, command, and control a Coyote using NOAA P-3 aircraft. Three Coyote UAS were brought onboard the manned aircraft. The plan was to deploy two UAS with the third to act as a back up. The third (and final) Coyote UAS launch was a success. After several minutes of controlled glide descent, the Coyote was fully operational at 5000ft. Coyote continued descent to 1,000ft. The remainder of the flight consisted of repeated ascending and descending controlled soundings between 600 ft and 1000 ft. The last 5-10 minutes of the flight included control stair-step descent from ~600ft UAS down to ~64ft. Four GPS sondes were released during the 50-minute UAS test flight. The last drop occurred as the UAS was at ~100ft altitude.
Post-mission observations and lessons learned included:
Š BAE’s difficulty in obtaining timely UAS pre-flight initialization. It was the first time BAE operated/worked with P-3/AOC personnel and improvement is expected next time.
Š Weaker than expected P-3/UAS in-flight communications. After speaking with BAE engineers, they are confident gain can be greatly improved with a stronger antenna/receiver system. BAE says they already have a fix for this and expect no issues going forward.
Š Short battery life. The 50-minute duration will be dramatically increased once a shorter pre-flight routine is established. Reducing/eliminating ‘up soundings’ would also increase duration. BAE also feels that increased battery power (for enhanced duration) is possible and should not be a major issue going forward.
The Primary Low Altitude UAS Tropical Cyclone Mission Objectives were to provide observations from an important region of the storm that is very difficult (and dangerous) to observe. They hoped to fully demonstrate the UAS’ overall capabilities in a variety of conditions within a hurricane environment. Including operations at very low altitudes (<200ft).
Phil reviewed the 2010 and 2011 objectives and plans (details are provided in the slides).
An Interagency Hurricane Conference was held in March 2010 to discuss “Low Altitude Observing Strategies.” The general guidelines for low altitude UAS hurricane missions include:
Š Fill an existing critical low altitude data void in hurricanes
Š Complement and support NOAA’s existing research & operations
Š Minimize mission and regulatory ‘risk’ (increase the likelihood for success)
Š Minimize Cost
The pros and cons of the execution of a low altitude UAS TC flight mission was presented and included Land-launched vs. Air-deployed UAS’ (see slides for details).
The pros include:
While the cons include:
The pros and cons of Land-launched UAS’ are:
The pros and cons of Air-deployed UAS’ include:
SCOAR Meeting, Day 2: 23 June 2010
UAV Experiment - Ken Melville kindly agreed to participate in the SCOAR meeting and provided a report on a UAV experiment that he is involved with. Ken is affiliated with the Marine Physical Laboratory and the Physical Oceanography Research Division of Scripps. His group’s primary area of research is air-sea interaction, including the topics of surface wave dynamics, air-sea fluxes, and upper ocean turbulence. Many of these processes and phenomena are influenced directly by surface wave breaking.
Ken reported that a UAV system to measure air-sea fluxes of momentum and other variables in the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) along with simultaneous surface wave measurements is being developed. This technology will permit measurements at low altitudes that are too dangerous for human flight. This low altitude (O(10) m) capability will result from the use of laser altimetry, differential GPS (DGPS) and inertial motion units (IMUs) to provide input to the controls for low altitude flight.
Information about Ken’s experiment follows:
Part of the experiment was to demonstrate that experiments can be done from manned aircraft. An Airborne LIDAR system was used. Existing lab equipment was assembled to form an Airborne LIDAR system. Research flights in a Piper Twin Comanche provided data of the Southern California coastline and near shore ocean environment. Additionally, research flights aboard a Cessna Caravan in April 2008 used scanning LIDAR to survey Lady Elliot Island (LEI) and surrounding waters, in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Ken also spoke about the Arctic aircraft applications. The experiments can be done with two UAVs, but he feels that the initial studies should be done with a Twin Otter. Air space issues are non-trivial even in the Arctic.
It was recommended that Luc and Ken draft a proposal for a UAV science demo from a Navy AGOR. They should work out the logistics with Bob Bluth.
SCOAR Terms of Reference: The UNOLS Charter requires that review of the Charter and its Annexes be preformed every three years. The SCOAR members reviewed the SCOAR terms of reference, UNOLS Charter, Annex VIII. Many suggested revisions and updates were incorporated into the terms (see Appendix XI). A motion was made and passed to forward the revised UNOLS Charter Annex VIII to the UNOLS Council for consideration (Dan Reimer/Phil McGuillivary).
SCOAR Membership – The SCOAR membership and term dates were reviewed (see Appendix XII). Nick Shay announced his resignation from SCOAR. When he was originally approached to serve on SCOAR, he thought it was for the broader oceanographic aircraft use. He thinks that CIRPAS is making good progress. A replacement for Nick will be needed. Suggestions were discussed.
Incorporating Aircraft into Ocean Sciences - Phil McGuillivary provided a report with examples and images of how aircraft have been conceptualized or utilized in ocean observing and oceanographic research. His slides are included as Appendix IX. The slides include:
SCOAR Action Item List – SCOAR meeting participants discussed the role of the committee and suggested activities. An action item list was generated and is included as Appendix X. The list is also provided at the beginning of this meeting minutes report.
Adjourn – The SCOAR meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.