Towards Detecting Atmospheric Coherent Structures using Small Fixed-Wing Unmanned Aircraft
Mcclelland, Hunter Grant
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The theory of Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCS) enables prediction of material transport by turbulent winds, such as those observed in the Earth's Atmospheric Boundary Layer. In this dissertation, both theory and experimental methods are developed for utilizing small fixed-wing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in detecting these atmospheric coherent structures. The dissertation begins by presenting relevant literature on both LCS and airborne wind estimation. Because model-based wind estimation inherently depends on high quality models, a Flight Dynamic Model (FDM) suitable for a small fixed-wing aircraft in turbulent wind is derived in detail. In this presentation, some new theoretical concepts are introduced concerning the proper treatment of spatial wind gradients, and a critical review of existing theories is presented. To enable model-based wind estimation experiments, an experimental approach is detailed for identifying a FDM for a small UAS by combining existing computational aerodynamic and data-driven approaches. Additionally, a methodology for determining wind estimation error directly resulting from dynamic modeling choices is presented and demonstrated. Next, some model-based wind estimation results are presented utilizing the experimentally identified FDM, accompanied by a discussion of model fidelity concerns and other experimental issues. Finally, an algorithm for detecting LCS from a single circling fixed-wing UAS is developed and demonstrated in an Observing System Simulation Experiment. The dissertation concludes by summarizing these contributions and recommending future paths for continuing research.
- Doctoral Dissertations