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Compact, High Performance, Drone-mounted Spectral Imaging System for Ecosystem Carbon-Cycle
Phone: (781) 273-4770
Phone: (781) 273-4770
Information on plant mass and other plant health characteristics can be obtained from vegetation trait measurements at frequent time intervals over a wide range of spatial scales using imaging spectroradiometers on Unmanned Aerial Systems. Such large-scale measurements of carbon sequestration are vital for modeling and predicting earth-system dynamics, ecosystem management, and agriculture. We have developed a compact, lightweight hyperspectral imaging system that will provide the required measurements, bringing new capabilities to a variety of remote sensing applications. The sensor combines a novel, high-performance solid-core spectrograph with a state-of-the-art, full-spectrum array detector. The system will be packaged for deployment on a multicopter or fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial System for rapid and convenient overflight monitoring of vegetation traits. Fabrication and acceptance testing were performed for a single-spectrograph sensor covering the full spectral range of 400-2450 nm with excellent spectral and spatial resolution and very high signal-to-noise. The complete sensor package weighs 2.3 kg and can provide spatial resolution ranging from 1-30 depending on sensor altitude. Calibration and data processing procedures were developed, and the sensor electronics were flight tested on a UAS. In Phase IIA, the sensor package will be extensively tested and deployed in field tests at well-instrumented ecological and agricultural research facilities. The goals are to: 1) rigorously test the ability of the sensor to make hyperspectral measurements with the required accuracy and precision, and 2) demonstrate use cases for routine mapping of vegetation products. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: A lightweight imaging spectral sensor integrated into a small UAS multicopter will produce high-resolution maps of plant health for ecosystem research and precision agriculture. Researchers can map ecological change at the forest level, while farmers can control fertilizer and water based on the requirements of individual plants. The sensor will be incorporated into a commercial product line targeting the precision agriculture and mineral exploration industries, as well as military and civilian agencies for surveillance, urban planning and land management applications, and research organizations developing new remote sensing applications. The sensor represents a breakthrough in size, weight, and performance that will enable routine application in the growing, but cost-sensitive field of precision agriculture.
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