The AirRoX is a heavily customized spectroscopy system prototype that consist of a full range spectrometer fully integrated into a quadcopter drone. This project started with the question of taking hyperspectral measurements of hard to access areas in the Antarctic shelf ice to understand albedo of various snow and ice covers. In this scenario, the drone, equipped with the spectrometer flies above the ice and collects measurements over previously defined waypoints. Along with the spectrometer a camera is triggered to accurately determine the surface that was surveyed. The payload triggering is fully integrated with the drones flight controller including a stabilizing gimbal mount. As the payload, including camera, spectrometer and gimbal weighs less than 700 g, the medium sized drone achieved a take off weight of 4900 g offering flight times beyond 30 minutes. A stationary RoX spectroscopy system is used to gather irradiance measurement parallel to the airborne spectra of reflected radiance.
This combination of drone and spectrometer does not only allow point measurements over hard to reach places, but the seamlessly integrated gimbal and spectrometer offers angular measurements of the Bidirectionol-Reflectance-Distribution-Function (BRDF) of any given surface without a need for a goniometer. Basically the drone will perform a hemispherical flight path that transforms it into a giant goniometer (reference). This flight pattern is enabled by a specific software tool to generate drone waypoints surveying a center point of interest from multiple position and angles.
With these unique features JB delivered an exciting tool to the scientific community. We are looking forward to the results generated by this flying spectrometer.