Using an Instrumented Drone to Sample Dust Devils
Dust devils are low-pressure, small (many to tens of meters) convective vortices powered by surface heating and rendered visible by lofted dust. The dust-lifting capacity of a devil likely depends sensitively on its structure, particularly the wind and pressure profiles, but the exact dependencies are poorly constrained. In this pilot study, we flew an instrumented quadcopter through several dust devils to probe their structures.
Dust devils occur ubiquitously on Mars, where they have been observed from space and from landed spacecraft. Martian dust devils may present a hazard to exploration of the planet, but they have also lengthened the lifetime of the Mars rovers.
Join the Physics Department on Friday, Sep 1 at 7:30p in the Multi-Purpose Classroom Building, room 101 to hear about research on terrestrial analog dust devils conducted by Boise State’s own Prof. Brian Jackson. He will discuss a recent pilot study using an instrumented quadcopter to sample active dust devils and will present encounter footage collected onboard the drone.
After the presentation at 8:30p, we will stargaze on the roof of the Brady Street Parking Garage.
A friend and colleague, Prof. Hannah Jang-Condell, invited me to visit her home department, the Physics and Astronomy Dept. at University of Wyoming. Having never been to Laramie, I was happy to accept.
I gave two presentations while at Wyoming, one to the geology dept. about our work on martian dust devils and another our SuPerPiG’s work looking for ultra-short-period planets. I’ve included my presentations below.