Recent Advances in the Tempest UAS for In-Situ Measurements in Highly-Dynamic Environments

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 8:45 AM
Brian M. Argrow1, Eric Frew1, Adam L Houston2 and Christopher Weiss3, (1)University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States, (3)Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, United States
The spring 2010 deployment of the Tempest UAS during the VORTEX2 field campaign verified that a small UAS, supported by a customized mobile communications, command, and control (C3) architecture, could simultaneously satisfy Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airspace requirements, and make in-situ thermodynamic measurements in supercell thunderstorms. A multi-hole airdata probe was recently integrated into the Tempest UAS airframe and verification flights were made in spring 2013 to collect in-situ wind measurements behind gust fronts produced by supercell thunderstorms in northeast Colorado. Using instantaneous aircraft attitude estimates from the autopilot, the in-situ measurements were converted to inertial wind estimates, and estimates of uncertainty in the wind measurements was examined. To date, the limited deployments of the Tempest UAS have primarily focused on addressing the engineering and regulatory requirements to conduct supercell research, and the Tempest UAS team of engineers and meteorologists is preparing for deployments with the focus on collecting targeted data for meteorological exploration and hypothesis testing. We describe the recent expansion of the operations area and altitude ceiling of the Tempest UAS, engineering issues for accurate inertial wind estimates, new concepts of operation that include the simultaneous deployment of multiple aircraft with mobile ground stations, and a brief description of our current effort to develop a capability for the Tempest UAS to perform autonomous path planning to maximize energy harvesting from the local wind field for increased endurance.