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The Multi-Purpose Airborne Sensor Carrier MASC-3 for Wind and Turbulence Measurements in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer

1
Center for Applied Geoscience, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Hölderlinstr. 12, 72074 Tübingen, Germany
2
Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
3
Geophysical Institute and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Postbox 7803, 5020 Bergen, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2019, 19(10), 2292; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19102292 (registering DOI)
Received: 18 March 2019 / Revised: 5 May 2019 / Accepted: 13 May 2019 / Published: 17 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Atmospheric Science)
PDF [12635 KB, uploaded 17 May 2019]

Abstract

For atmospheric boundary-layer (ABL) studies, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can provide new information in addition to traditional in-situ measurements, or by ground- or satellite-based remote sensing techniques. The ability of fixed-wing UAS to transect the ABL in short time supplement ground-based measurements and the ability to extent the data horizontally and vertically allows manifold investigations. Thus, the measurements can provide many new possibilities for investigating the ABL. This study presents the new mark of the Multi-Purpose Airborne Sensor Carrier (MASC-3) for wind and turbulence measurements and describes the subsystems designed to improve the wind measurement, to gain endurance and to allow operations under an enlarged range of environmental conditions. The airframe, the capabilities of the autopilot Pixhawk 2.1, the sensor system and the data acquisition software, as well as the post-processing software, provide the basis for flight experiments and are described in detail. Two flights in a stable boundary-layer and a close comparison to a measurement tower and a Sodar system depict the accuracy of the wind speed and direction measurements, as well as the turbulence measurements. Mean values, variances, covariance, turbulent kinetic energy and the integral length scale agree well with measurements from a meteorological measurement tower. MASC-3 performs valuable measurements of stable boundary layers with high temporal resolution and supplements the measurements of meteorological towers and sodar systems.
Keywords: fixed-wing unmanned aircraft; turbulence measurement; 3D wind vector measurement; stable boundary layer; comparison with measurement tower; unmanned aircraft system (UAS); remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) fixed-wing unmanned aircraft; turbulence measurement; 3D wind vector measurement; stable boundary layer; comparison with measurement tower; unmanned aircraft system (UAS); remotely piloted aircraft (RPA)
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rautenberg, A.; Schön, M.; zum Berge, K.; Mauz, M.; Manz, P.; Platis, A.; van Kesteren, B.; Suomi, I.; Kral, S.T.; Bange, J. The Multi-Purpose Airborne Sensor Carrier MASC-3 for Wind and Turbulence Measurements in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer. Sensors 2019, 19, 2292.

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