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Open AccessArticle

Accuracy of Flight Altitude Measured with Low-Cost GNSS, Radar and Barometer Sensors: Implications for Airborne Radiometric Surveys

1
Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, University of Ferrara, Via Saragat, 1, 44122 Ferrara, Italy
2
Ferrara Section of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Via Saragat, 1, 44122 Ferrara, Italy
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Legnaro National Laboratory, National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Via dell’Università 2, 35020 Legnaro (Padova), Italy
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Geomatics Research & Development (GReD) srl, Via Cavour 2, 22074 Lomazzo (Como), Italy
5
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (DICA), Polytechnic of Milan, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2017, 17(8), 1889; https://doi.org/10.3390/s17081889
Received: 7 July 2017 / Revised: 10 August 2017 / Accepted: 13 August 2017 / Published: 16 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors, Control, and Telemetry)
Flight height is a fundamental parameter for correcting the gamma signal produced by terrestrial radionuclides measured during airborne surveys. The frontiers of radiometric measurements with UAV require light and accurate altimeters flying at some 10 m from the ground. We equipped an aircraft with seven altimetric sensors (three low-cost GNSS receivers, one inertial measurement unit, one radar altimeter and two barometers) and analyzed ~3 h of data collected over the sea in the (35–2194) m altitude range. At low altitudes (H < 70 m) radar and barometric altimeters provide the best performances, while GNSS data are used only for barometer calibration as they are affected by a large noise due to the multipath from the sea. The ~1 m median standard deviation at 50 m altitude affects the estimation of the ground radioisotope abundances with an uncertainty less than 1.3%. The GNSS double-difference post-processing enhanced significantly the data quality for H > 80 m in terms of both altitude median standard deviation and agreement between the reconstructed and measured GPS antennas distances. Flying at 100 m the estimated uncertainty on the ground total activity due to the uncertainty on the flight height is of the order of 2%. View Full-Text
Keywords: airborne gamma-ray spectrometry; low-cost GNSS; barometric sensors; radar altimeter; IMU airborne gamma-ray spectrometry; low-cost GNSS; barometric sensors; radar altimeter; IMU
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Albéri, M.; Baldoncini, M.; Bottardi, C.; Chiarelli, E.; Fiorentini, G.; Raptis, K.G.C.; Realini, E.; Reguzzoni, M.; Rossi, L.; Sampietro, D.; Strati, V.; Mantovani, F. Accuracy of Flight Altitude Measured with Low-Cost GNSS, Radar and Barometer Sensors: Implications for Airborne Radiometric Surveys. Sensors 2017, 17, 1889.

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