Air-Sea Interaction Measurements from the Controlled Towed Vehicle

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Djamal Khelif, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States, Robert T Bluth, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, United States, Haflidi Jonsson, Naval Postgraduate School, CIRPAS, Monterey, CA, United States and Jesse Barge, Zivko Aeronautics Inc., Guthrie, OK, United States
The Controlled Towed Vehicle (CTV) uses improved towed drone technology to actively maintain via a radar altimeter and controllable wing a user-set height that can be as low as the canonical reference height of 10 m above the sea surface. After take-off, the drone is released from the tow aircraft on a ~700-m stainless steel cable. We have instrumented the 0.23 m diameter and 2.13 m long drone with high fidelity instruments to measure the means and turbulent fluctuations of 3-D wind vector, temperature, humidity, pressure, CO2 and IR sea surface temperature. Data are recorded internally at 40 Hz and simultaneously transmitted to the tow aircraft via dedicated wireless Ethernet link. The CTV accommodates 40 kg of instrument payload and provides it with 250 W of continuous power through a ram air propeller-driven generator. Therefore its endurance is only limited by that of the tow aircraft.We will discuss the CTV development, the engineering challenges and solutions that have been successfully implemented to overcome them. We present results from recent flights as low as 9 m over the coastal ocean and comparisons of profiles and turbulent fluxes from the CTV and the tow aircraft.

Manned aircraft operation at low-level boundary-layer flights is very limited. Dropsondes and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) and UAS are alternates for measurements near the ocean surface. However, dropsondes have limited sensor capability and do not measure fluxes, and most present UAS vehicles do not have the payload and power capacity nor the low-flying ability in high winds over the oceans. The CTV therefore, fills a needed gap between the dropsondes, in situ aircraft, and UAS. The payload, capacity and power of the CTV makes it suitable for a variety of atmospheric research measurements. Other sensors to measure aerosol, chemistry, radiation, etc., could be readily accommodated in the CTV.