Altair Western States Fire Mission Concept Plan
The ALTAIR Western States Mission is a
planned enhancement "follow-on" to the highly successful
FiRE project. This mission is currently planned for demonstration
flights in the 4th quarter of FY04. One of the driving objectives of
this mission is to demonstrate successful, high altitude data
collection by a UAV over a wildfire within National Airspace (outside
perimeters of closed test range facilities). The purpose of the
ALTAIR Western States Mission is to further demonstrate enhancements
to the UAV platform capabilities, improvements to the payload data
collection system, telemetry capabilities, and image
geo-rectification and data / information decision support system
enhancement. This Mission Concept Plan document will provide the
requirements foundation for performing the ALTAIR Western States
Mission demonstration. This document will serve as a reference for
team members leading up to the demonstration mission. Modifications
to this plan will be continuous, allowing for shifting requirements
and flexible scheduling of the UAV platform, personnel, and the
payload, due to uncertainty of emerging fire targets.
goal of the mission is to collect and distribute real-time,
geo-registered, multi spectral wildfire image data from a UAV
operating at altitudes between 20K and 50K. The UAV will fly from
either the NASA Dryden Flight facility or General Atomics facility at
El Mirage. We anticipate a mission capability of 24 hours on-site
over various fire events in the western United States, providing
In order to achieve
these objectives it is necessary to initiate a rapid
"ramp-up" of interim mission capabilities prior to the
24-hour mission. These would include full in-flight testing of
platform, sensor package and telemetry technologies at high altitude
(50K feet) for extended mission periods. A possible program would
ramp from 4 hours to 12 hours to 24 hours.
filters on channel 3, remote operations from ALTAIR Command and
Control (C&C) trailer. The AIRDAS has been modified for
high-altitude flight capabilities (up to 55K feet alt.) and potential
long-duration mission capabilities (+12 hour operation). Further full
mission endurance testing will be required both in the lab and aboard
a UAV, simulating full 24-hour mission sensor endurance and
performance characteristics. Alternatively, we will use the 12
channel multi-spectral imager, if available.
The image data telemetry system will use the ALTAIR on-board Ku-band
telemetry system, if possible. Otherwise, the 500 Kbs C&C
communications equipment flown previously on ALTUS (or some other
COTS OTH telemetry system) will be integrated into the ALTAIR
fuselage. The telemetry equipment will be tested for altitude
capability prior to the actual flight mission. A carrier account will
be in place to allow data transfer. The carrier account will be
located at NASA-Ames.
ALTAIR: Capability to allow stand-by mode for possibly
+1 week, during major fire season in Western US to allow capture of
natural wildfire in surrounding environment. Capability to fly to a
200 mile radius outside El Mirage or NASA-DFRC / Edwards AFB
restricted air space. Mission capability to 50K feet altitude.
Mission duration of 24-hours over fire incidents. Operation with or
without chase plane. Pilots should be available for mission on
stand-by basis (most likely during a one-week period).
Demonstration Location Possibilities: First phase
demonstration of Western States Mission to encompass full test of
platform, sensor, telemetry and data handling for a
"ramp-up" mission within 200 miles of the NASA-DFRC or El
Mirage. Due to the high potential for "Santa Ana"
wind-driven fires in Southern California and fires in the southern
extent of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, as well as the southern extent
of Coastal Range during the late summer / fall of 2004, we propose to
conduct our mission over naturally occurring wildfires in the
wildlands within a control range of 200 miles of the command center.
Figure 1 displays the flight coverage area for mission potential
within 200 miles of the NASA-Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards
AFB, CA. This "potential mission area" should provide ample
opportunity for collecting data over a wildfire in the Southern /
Central California region.
Figure 1. Two
hundred mile flight radius coverage capability centered at NASA-DFRC,
CA. Fires within the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains of the
L.A. Basin, the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Coastal
range are within the 200-mile radius for mission consideration,
subject to restrictions due to population or other
The US Forest
Service personnel will report the location of the demonstration
"natural" fire to V. Ambrosia (NASA-Ames). Ambrosia will
notify the operations team on standby and allow NASA-Dryden ramp-up
for a flight mission within 24-48 hours of the fire notification.
Locational coordinates of the fire(s) will be provided to the UAV
flight crew for flight line and mission planning purposes. NASA-DFRC
Airborne Science Office personnel will coordinate any FAA issues and
clearances involved in transit to, over-flight, lingering, and
return-to-base flight parameters for the mission.
SRTM data of 1° Quadrangle covering El Mirage, CA. (Quad location
34N / 118W (lower left corner)). Colored shaded relief of
The payload team,
consisting of a sensor engineer (R. Higgins) and a telemetry/computer
support engineer (D. Sullivan) will be on stand-by for deployment to
NASA-DFRC if necessary for mission operation. The team will
coordinate with appropriate NASA personnel on equipment space for the
telemetry systems and payload operations systems in the NASA-DFRC
C&C facility. This equipment will be in place prior to mission
deployment (possibly setup one week prior to start of mission
demonstration period). During the data collection mission flight, the
payload engineer will coordinate with the UAV pilot and co-pilot on
establishing flight lines for data collection as well as orientation
of the airframe for proper telemetry operations, if
collection, V. Ambrosia and S. Buechel will monitor the data quality
and initiate geo-correction, enhancement, and data dissemination of
the AIRDAS data.
The AIRDAS data will
be delivered to the website via satcom as both multi-channel
color-composite JPG files and B/W JPG files of single channels.
Single channel information will be either Channel 3 (short-wave TIR)
or Channel 4 (long-wave TIR). Multi-band composites will be either
3,2, 1 combination or 4,2,1 combination. Data will be sent via
telemetry as a JPG file.
and data dissemination:
V. Ambrosia will
ensure that SRTM data for the potential fire demonstration area are
available and formatted for use in the image geo-rectification
procedures (Figure 2). This data will also serve as a potential data
layer for near-real-time image draping over 3-D terrain data for
visualization enhancement. Ambrosia will oversee these image
developments and prepare the necessary SRTM data for integration. S.
Buechel will oversee operations of the geo-rectification procedures.
Quick-look data (unrectified) and geo-corrected will be sent to an
FTP server at NASA-Ames (geo.arc.nasa.gov) and the UAVFiRE website.
These output files will vary in size depending on the
geo-rectification procedures employed. Geo-rectified output images
will also have an associated GEOTIFF file accompanying the corrected
image data. Media and outside agencies will then have access to the
information through the WWW.