June 6, 2011 12:28 PM
The 2011 field season will be our fourth year using the DeepWorkers and I'd like to think that over the years we've learned a few things and have gotten pretty good at flight planning. In the last two field seasons at Pavilion Lake, we've been focused on collecting images from regions of the lake where we haven't been before (filling in the gaps!) or on getting more detailed imaging based on cool features we've seen in video footage from previous years. This year the team is at Kelly Lake and we're in a situation similar to the one we faced in 2008 when we first brought the DeepWorkers to Pavilion for the first time and were new at flight planning, where do we send them?
Unlike our previous two years at Pavilion Lake, at Kelly Lake we don't have previous flights or underwater images to help guide us in our flight planning. This is exciting as it means everything is new and we don't know what surprises might be in store for us when we first view the video, but it also means that we need to find some way to decide how to design our flight paths. While we don't have prior flights what we do have is some really great sonar images that were acquired in 2010 using the AUV from the University of Delaware team. Using these images we can get some sense of where interesting features are in the lake (e.g. big field of microbialites, neat ripples in the sediment) and plan our flights to have the DeepWorkers pass them by.
Every year we try to improve on how we create the actual flight paths as we're constantly learning about ways to make it easier and more efficient. Thanks to the wonderful IRG folks, we have some incredible online flight planning tools this year that we've been able to put to good use (including many attempts to break /fix/improve them along the way!). With them we're able to draw our flight paths directly onto an image of the lake.With these new tools and the sonar images, we've already managed to plan all 14 of our DW flights putting us in great shape for final reviews and edits leading up to the field season which is only a little over a month away. We look forward to applying the lessons we've learned from flight planning at Pavilion to the exploration of Kelly Lake and can't wait to see what interesting finds await us!
Your 2011 flight planners,
Allyson, Mars and Stan
Dr. Art Trembanis