A New Hyperspectral Designed for Small UAS Tested in Real World Applications

Friday, 19 December 2014
Emma Marcucci1, Eyal Saiet II2 and Michael C. Hatfield2, (1)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (2)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
The ability to investigate landscape and vegetation from airborne instruments offers many advantages, including high resolution data, ability to deploy instruments over a specific area, and repeat measurements. The Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) has recently integrated a hyperspectral imaging camera onto their Ptarmigan hexacopter. The Rikola Hyperspectral Camera manufactured by VTT and Rikola, Ltd. is capable of obtaining data within the 400-950 nm range with an accuracy of ~1 nm. Using the compact flash on the UAV limits the maximum number of channels to 24 this summer. The camera uses a single frame to sequentially record the spectral bands of interest in a 37° field-of-view. Because the camera collects data as single frames it takes a finite amount of time to compile the complete spectral. Although each frame takes only 5 nanoseconds, co-registration of frames is still required. The hovering ability of the hexacopter helps eliminate frame shift. GPS records data for incorporation into a larger dataset. Conservatively, the Ptarmigan can fly at an altitude of 400 feet, for 15 minutes, and 7000 feet away from the operator. The airborne hyperspectral instrument will be extremely useful to scientists as a platform that can provide data on-request. Since the spectral range of the camera is ideal for the study of vegetation, this study 1) examines seasonal changes of vegetation of the Fairbanks area, 2) ground-truths satellite measurements, and 3) ties vegetation conditions around a weather tower to the tower readings. Through this proof of concept, ACUASI provides a means for scientists to request the most up-to-date and location-specific data for their field sites. Additionally, the resolution of the airborne instruments is much higher than that of satellite data, these may be readily tasked, and they have the advantage over manned flights in terms of manpower and cost.