ESRL Global Systems Division

NOAA Sponsors UAS Flights Over Greenland

Starting July 2, NOAA will sponsor a three-week Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) mission over Greenland titled Arctic MUSCOX. Advanced Ceramics Research and the University of Colorado will send a "Manta" unmanned aircraft up the coast of Greenland from Ilulissat in a series of flights to observe glacier ice melt. By using the Manta, scientists will be able to increase the area of observation and collect data from remote areas that are currently difficult to monitor. The Manta, whose gross maximum weight is 60 pounds, can carry a 15-pound payload and fly up to 16,000 feet in altitude for as long as six hours. For this particular mission, the aircraft will fly as low as 500 feet over unfamiliar terrain to monitor the melt-off. Flying at that altitude will provide scientists with higher-resolution data. Multiple Manta aircraft offer redundancy in the case of any equipment failures on the primary vehicle, enabling mission flexibility. This mission is unique in that an extremely small vehicle is able to collect data via multiple sensors.

NOAA Corps Officer, CDR John Adler, is leading the project as a part of his graduate work at the University of Colorado (CU). Jim Maslanik (CU) and LCDR Philip Hall (NOAA Corps) will be visiting the flight operations in Greenland to observe flight protocol and safety procedures. The Manta was built and will be operated by Advanced Ceramics Research personnel who have thousands of flight hours of experience, including experience in Greenland.

Using UAS marks the start of a new era in Arctic exploration as future mission profiles involving UAS will open new research ideas and operational implementation. With UAS, we are better equipped to address questions about what scientists have been observing for the last ten years in Greenland. The impact of this occurrence will certainly resonate beyond the region affecting both animal and human life.

Contact information
Name: John Adler
Tel: 303-497-7120
John.Adler@noaa.gov