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A Drone for Air Quality and Meteorology Measurements

The Center for Multiscale Applied Sensing (CMAS) is taking advantage of the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), using an octocopter drone to conduct meteorological and atmospheric chemistry measurements. Though drones have been employed in scientific research, most applications are based on visual examination. CMAS scientists are testing a drone prototype that in a modular fashion allows in situ measurements of temperature, humidity, pressure, trace gases such as ozone, aerosol size distribution and collection of air samples for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) analysis. The octocopter drone allows to bridge the data gap between ground site and research aircraft measurements, to take measurements inside a pollution plume (stationary) and along tall buildings, chimney stacks, oil platforms for inspection, and rapid employment in disaster situations making it a highly versatile platform.

photo of POPS unit

Test flights of the octocopter UAV and Prof. Daniel Knopf, Professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and CMAS collaborator in the laboratory working on sensor integration on the drone.

Modular miniature sensing technology coupled to an automated UAV in the form of an octocopter drone will allow to perform measurements of meteorological parameters including O3, aerosol size distribution, and collect PM2.5 and gaseous species for post analyses in the laboratory. This cost-effective measurement platform has the potential to revolutionize how air quality relevant parameters are continuously measured in the future.

The CMAS UAV capabilities are supported jointly by Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory. The ultimate goal is to integrate high resolution modeling and UAV observations in urban and coastal areas.

CMAS Research Components