It was a chance for scientists, engineers and pilots to tout their successes and their relevance as they research "sense-and-avoid" drone technology, better alternative jet fuels and a powerful laser that can help compile a 3-D profile of wind.
"This is all awesome to me," Administrator Bolden said afterward in the center's hangar. "Because it speaks to the things that we're really trying to collaborate with the
Pushing flight safety is preaching to the choir. A compact man, Bolden is not only a former naval aviator and retired
He listened attentively to each presentation and never missed an opportunity to shake the hand of a Langley pilot.
Sense-and-avoid technology, once cracked, is key to the
The technology uses sophisticated computer algorithms to enable unmanned drone aircraft to detect and maneuver around other aircraft and tall stationary objects, such as buildings and cell phone towers.
Bolden watched a video of earlier test flights illustrating how aircrafts deliberately set on collision paths successfully used sense-and-avoid technology to avoid catastrophe, with one plane veering off safely.
The technology is still evolving, Jones said, and tests continue to unearth room for improvement in areas such as air speed and communications.
Once in use, said Bolden, the technology should not only give pilots greater confidence around UAS devices, but also help overstressed air traffic controllers.
"Everything that they were demonstrating here is a near-collision scenario -- that's what drives an air traffic controller absolutely bonkers, because now they've got to do something, they've got to do it really quick," said Bolden. "And if you've got an algorithm onboard multiple airplanes that are doing the maneuvering, it really, really relieves the air traffic controllers."
NASA Langley has been trying for several years to cook up a more Earth-friendly jet fuel, from a coal derivative to chicken fat.
They found marked success earlier this year by mixing traditional jet fuel, called JP-8, with a biofuel made from the flowering camelina plant and achieving what senior research scientist
Renewable biofuels can help reduce the amount of harmful particulates -- particularly soot -- in jet engine emissions and alleviate the buildup of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A jet's cloud-like contrail is composed of ice crystals, soot, sulfur and other elements that pose a risk to people and the environment. The emissions are most noticeable when a jet is idling on the ground; that's when its engine is running most inefficiently and poses the greatest threat to local air quality.
"We feel like we've got a handle on how to do this," said Anderson. "Now we have to go back and make more detailed measurements."
Wind in 3-D
At one point, Bolden turned to a colleague with a smile: "This man is trying to get more money."
More money and more international partnerships are what it will take, Singh says, to one day realize his vision of a space-based Doppler Aerosol Wind, or DAWN, lidar to help compile a 3-D profile of wind and revolutionize severe weather forecasting, especially hurricane prediction and tracking. DAWN measures wind speed and direction by tracking dust and other particles at different heights.
Until then and closer to home, Singh said, the lidar could be used to help find the best places to site turbines for wind farms.
This summer, for instance,
"First, it's really windy out there," Koch said of the results. "And the other thing is, there's a lot of variation. It's a pretty complex wind area."
Yet a better understanding of that complexity, said Singh is "very beneficial for people who want to harness wind out of this area."
Bolden said these projects fall under
"If you compare that to the amount of money we spend in everything else in the agency, or anywhere else in government, it's minuscule," Bolden said. "And yet this is contributing to the largest balance of trade items in all of
Dietrich can be reached by phone at 757-247-7892.
(c)2013 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Visit the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) at www.dailypress.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services