MEASUREMENT OF AEOLIAN PROCESSES WITH A ROBOTIC PLATFORM
Existing instrumentation has many limitations: installing it is very labor intensive and disturbs the fragile surfaces of interest. Once installed, it is fixed in space, and can only be deployed for a short time. The very existence of the instruments affects the wind field and probably the rates of sediment transport.
Legged robots are agile and have proved to be able to cope with the challenges of a mobile substrate and a harsh environment, and can carry a versatile instrument package to measure wind speed and direction, sand transport, and dust emissions, located in space and time using a high-resolution GPS receiver. We now have a new technology to address a central problem in aeolian research – how to get good measurements of critical parameters in difficult conditions.
We present the results of our initial field experiments at White Sands National Monument and Jornada Experimental Range that demonstrate that our robotic platform can collect meaningful data sets on surface conditions, near-surface winds, sand transport rates, and dust emissions during transport events.