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Developing a Capability at the University of Hawai’i for Multiple UAV Observations of Active Volcanism Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Science Mission Directorate

Aerial image acquired by UH Hilo UAV on 10/29/2014 of the then-active lava flow approaching the town of Pahoa on the Big Island. Direction of flow is to the right. This image was obtained with a simple “point-and-shoot” camera. This proposal intends to not only extend the range of instruments that could be flown, but also to develop techniques to have coordinated flying with multiple UAVs.

This NASA EPSCoR project will show University of Hawai’i (UH) faculty and research staff how to utilize unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for science projects, with a specific focus on analyzing the active Kilauea volcano. NASA has long studied the volcanoes in Hawai’i using different remote sensing techniques that include satellites, aircraft and, more recently, unmanned aerial vehicles such as the UAVSAR. Although Hawai’i was selected in 2013 (along with Alaska and Oregon) to be part of one of six national Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) UAV Test Sites, the UH is poorly prepared to take advantage of this opportunity for new research. Learning how to conduct research under formal Federal flight rules, including the flight certification of sensors, training the UAV operators, and meeting FAA range safety rules will be an important part of this project. In addition, novel techniques, such as UAV formation-flying for “stereo viewing” of volcanic plumes, will open up many new science research opportunities. This specific project, to be mentored by Dr. Dave Pieri at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will investigate the connection between the thermal properties of active lava flows and the changes in flow topography at Kilauea on an hour-by-hour basis. The team also wants to estimate the gas flux from the volcanic plumes associated with these flows. To accomplish these science objectives, they will use multiple UAVs to make simultaneous measurements of Kilauea’s active lava flows and volcanic plumes. These concurrent measurements will be coordinated through the adaptation of the UH COSMOS smallsatellite software to control UAVs. Through mentoring by Dr. Matt Fladeland (NASA Ames), the team will learn the operational aspects of UAV research and how they relate to NASA’s broader research objectives. Thus, the Team will become more competitive with our future research proposals to be submitted to NASA.

Pete Mouginis-Mark, Science PI, Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Dr. Matthew Fladeland, NASA Ames Research Center, Earth Science Division

NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15



EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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