Press Release

he Rising Role of Aerial Technology in Atmospheric Science Research on Tap at NASA Langley Talks

By SpaceRef Editor
April 3, 2019
Filed under ,

Dr. Phillip Chillson’s study converging unmanned aerial systems and atmospheric science research will be discussed Tuesday, April 9 at NASA’s Langley Research Center and again at the Virginia Air and Space Center, both in Hampton, Virginia.
The University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology professor will give the lecture at 2 p.m. EST in Langley’s Reid Center as part of the center’s Colloquium Series. He will also give the talk at 7:30 p.m. EST at the Virginia Air and Space Center as part of the Sigma Series of lectures.

There is rich and promising potential in using small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to collect much-needed measurements in the lower atmosphere. Data from fleets of UAS could revolutionize our capability for atmospheric observation, significantly improve weather forecasting skill and help to identify severe weather threats. Emerging technology surrounding UAS provides ample opportunities to collect dense profiles of the atmospheric state as part of advanced weather observing systems. These are the “pioneering days” for developing UAS and sensor technology, and for integrating them into atmospheric science and forecast models. Small UAS can provide much-needed targeted lower-atmospheric data to answer some of the fundamental and high-impact science questions facing the atmospheric science community, and are needed for modern observing systems to fill a data gap close to the Earth’s surface.

Chillson’s lecture will showcase preliminary data from a 3D Mesonet, including collection of vertical atmospheric measurements using instrumented, autonomous and unattended UAS across a spatial network of fixed surface observing sites. Measurements from an operational version of the 3D Mesonet could be utilized to better characterize the atmospheric boundary layer, improve weather forecasts and to identify threats of severe weather.

Chillson is director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling. He received a Bachelor of Science and a Ph.D. in physics from Clemson University and Master of Science in physics from the University of Florida. He has also contributed to research at the Max-Planck Institut fur Aeronomie, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, and Colorado University. Chilson’s current research interests include investigations of the atmospheric boundary layer, aeroecology, the advancement of remote sensing technologies and development of UAS for atmospheric studies.

Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma lectures provide monthly talks and demonstrations related to science and technology. The lectures are intended to stimulate the creative processes of Langley employees and enhance the quality of life at Langley by providing more opportunities for learning.

The Sigma Series talk is free and open to the public. The lecture at Langley limited to employees but will be open to news media. Media wishing to attend the Langley lecture should contact Eric Gillard at 757-864-7423 or at> by noon EST Monday, April 8.

For more information about Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.