The Flying Season
Our operational flying season generally spans from early March until early October, though this may be extend in support of overseas campaigns. However, generally there are four elements that determine this period of data collection:
- The requirements of the science team (these may be determined by specific requirements of the research team and include the solar zenith angle, vegetation state and synchronisation with a satellite overpass),
- suitable weather (to meet operational and science requirements),
- aircraft maintenance,
- sensor maintenance, validation and calibration.
Every day during the flying season, the ARSF has to make difficult decisions on whether or not to attempt the collection of data and if so from where those data should be collected. The resultant course of action will be based on weather forecasts and the relative priorities and criteria of the different project. A broad picture of our current flight schedule can be viewed via a wiki and more general news regarding overseas deployments and outstanding commitments via our News page. Please note that the flight schedule is subject to constant update, if you are ever in doubt about any aspect of your project please directly contact the Science/Operations Co-ordinator.
Pre-season planning meeting
At the start of the flying season, before operational data collection has commenced, the ARSF will invite all PI's and their research teams to Gloucester Airport (Staverton) to discuss their projects. This is an opportunity for the researchers to see the aircraft and instruments and for flight planning and contact details to be agreed. It is at this stage that operational restrictions and specific requirements to support the science can be highlighted, explained and potential solutions investigated.
See the Mission planning details
Contact details should have been confirmed during the planning meeting and an up-to-date indication of forthcoming intentions to fly in support of specific projects can be gained from the data collection status wiki. In the month preceding the planned date of data acquisition the PI (or nominated research team representative) should be contacted by the Science/Operations Co-ordinator. If this does not occur it is the responsibility of the PI (and research team) to contact the ARSF. Typically the PI (or nominated research team representative) will be contacted on a weekly basis and when the date of the data acquisition is imminent on a daily basis. A broad guide to the sequence of events can also be viewed as a flowchart.
After the flight the PI (or nominated research team representative) will be contacted to allow any associated collection of data in the field (e.g. from a gps receiver or spectroradiometer) to be completed. Following this an indication of relative success of the acquisition will be discussed and the timing of any subsequent acquisitions arranged. If the post-flight quality control process reveals any concerns these are passed to the PI (or nominated research team representative). Within one week the data will be transferred to the ARSF-data analysis node (at PML) where its processing status may be tracked via their wiki.