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Meteorological Instrumentation Payload Integration Using Dropsonde Technology

Meteorological Instrumentation Payload Integration Using Dropsonde Technology,Nicole Dudley,Ryan Johns,Karina Ogilvie,Mark Windland,Jeffrey Childers,B

Meteorological Instrumentation Payload Integration Using Dropsonde Technology  
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In situ meteorological data representing changes in the atmosphere are needed to initialize and validate climate models. Some of the measurements required by these models are profiles of temperature, pressure, relative humidity, and wind velocity. With this data, scientists can contribute to the analysis of the increasing melting rate of Arctic sea ice and the decreasing winter re-growth rate. In situ measurements in the Arctic are challenging to obtain because of the remote expanses of the Arctic and harsh operating environment. To minimize these challenges, meteorological agencies have recently proposed to take these measurements using dropsonde sensors deployed from large Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Dropsonde sensors are weather reconnaissance devices that can dropped vertically through the atmosphere, while transmitting data back to the aircraft. The issue with using these sensors aboard large UAVs is that a mission can prove costly in both manpower and equipment, with a host aircraft such as the Global Hawk costing up to $75,000,000 4 . This paper details the possibility of using new dropsonde technology aboard a small, low-cost UAV, providing the same atmospheric data over remote locations for a fraction of the cost. The ARCTIC (Arctic Region Climate Tracking and Instrumentation Cargo) project at the University of Colorado at Boulder has developed and engineered an instrumentation payload to integrate onto an Insitu Insight A-20 UAV, provided by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The system will be used to demonstrate a "proof of concept" that a small UAV can be utilized in the Arctic to acquire in situ climate data. This paper presents the ARCTIC project payload configuration with an emphasis on the dropsonde release mechanism, compensation for aircraft center of gravity (CG) change with dropsonde deployment, and payload integration onto the host vehicle.
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