NASA P-3 EcoSAR
Aerodynamic & Structural Analyses
Under NASA’s Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) managed by the Earth Science Technology Office, EcoSAR, an advanced airborne SAR instrument, is developed at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. The instrument is designed to provide two- and three-dimensional fine scale measurements of terrestrial ecosystem structure and biomass, helping our understanding of the carbon cycle and its relationship to climate change.
DARcorporation engineers, as a subcontractor to the University of Kansas who is tasked to develop the wing mounted radar enclosures, participated in the analyses of aerodynamic characteristics and the structural configuration. The installation is designed to withstand the extreme temperatures at cruise and loiter altitudes. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) cases were analyzed to check for turbulence in the vicinity of the installation. Performance studies were also conducted to investigate the implications of the installation on drag and hence range and endurance. An aerodynamically optimized shape of the fairing was developed based on the results from the performance trade studies and the CFD studies. A finite element model of the fairing was developed and various load cases were simulated. The attached structure is sized to not only survive the extreme load conditions by itself, but also to not introduce unacceptable additional loads to the P-3 airframe. Structural stability, dynamic modes and fatigue are also inspected to ensure safe flights.
DARcorporation engineers are also involved in static load testing and the dynamic modal testing of the installations at NOAA Aircraft Operations Center on the MacDill Air Force Base.
The installations were successfully test flown in March 2014 aboard a NOAA P-3 aircraft, conducting measurements over areas of the Bahamas and Costa Rica.
Published references include:
- Rincon, R.F., T. Fatoyinbo, K. J. Ranson, G. Sun, M. Deshpande, M. Perrine, C. F. Du Toit, R. Hale, B. Osmanoglu, J. Beck, D. Lu and Q. Bonds, “EcoSAR, An airborne P-band Polarimetric InSAR for the measurement of Ecosystem structure and biomass.” Proceedings of the EUSAR 2014 – 10th European Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar, 3-5 June, 2014, Berlin, Germany.
- Rincon, R.F., T. Fatoyinbo, K. J. Ranson, G. Sun, M. Deshpande, M. Perrine, C. F. Du Toit, Q. Bonds, V. Marrero, R. D. Hale, A. Bhat and P. James. “Development of the ECOSAR P-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar.” Proceedings of the IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 22-27 July, 2012, Munich, Germany.