ARM Aerial Facility Establishes UAS Advisory Group

Published: 16 November 2023

Outside expertise will give ARM needed perspective as it expands uncrewed aerial system operations

On the tarmac of the Pendleton UAS Range, ARM Aerial Facility staff work on the ArcticShark uncrewed aerial system.
ARM Aerial Facility staff prepare the ArcticShark uncrewed aerial system (UAS) for flight during a series of test flights in February 2023 at the Pendleton (Oregon) UAS Range.

Airborne observations—in concert with ground measurements—are essential in helping to inform a fundamental understanding of clouds, aerosols, and other factors that affect Earth’s surface radiation balance.

It is, in fact, the mission of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Aerial Facility (AAF), which relies on continually assessing capabilities and expertise within the airborne measurement community to ensure operational excellence and safety. With this mission in mind, the AAF has formed an Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) Advisory Group.

According to AAF Manager Beat Schmid, this panel of independent experts brings a strong focus on operations and safety as opportunities emerge to fly the ARM user facility’s ArcticShark UAS at additional sites to support more research.

Over the past several years, Schmid and ARM leadership have built a staff at the AAF with UAS expertise in operations, training, maintenance, engineering, and safety.

“We’re now entering a new and more intense phase of executing ARM user calls and moving to new sites, such as the new Bankhead National Forest (atmospheric observatory) in Alabama,” says Schmid. “That’s why we sought the counsel of top experts in the UAS community to get their direction on all of our activities—from operations and safety to maintenance and engineering.”

Members of the ARM UAS Advisory Group are:

The group will report to Schmid.

Outside expertise, says Schmid, provides perspective as ARM looks to expand its aerial operations, take on new observation challenges, and evaluate user proposals. On November 1, 2023, ARM closed its first ArcticShark call for proposals.

“In any organization, there is the danger of becoming too comfortable in our day-to-day work,” adds Schmid. “This group of experts is outspoken and will not allow any hint of complacency to jeopardize our operational efficiency, safety, and the value we bring to the scientific community. For that, we thank each of them.”

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Author: Mike Wasem, Staff Writer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

ARM is a DOE Office of Science user facility operated by nine DOE national laboratories.