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STENIS SPACE CENTER, Mississippi (press release) – From the National Aeronautics and Space Administration:
Unmanned aircraft systems, otherwise known as drones, are no longer just for fun. At NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, drones have become an essential resource for challenging and dangerous jobs, saving time and money.
One might find drone technology like a game. Small four-propeller drones entertain homes, collide with a variety of objects, and perform acrobatics under the skill of remote pilot for kids. However, NASA-trained drone pilots are dreaming of new ways to make small remote-controlled aircraft like this useful.
“Stennis uses drone technology to reduce costs, increase productivity, and most importantly, reduce personnel exposure to risk,” said Jason Peterson, director of NASA flight operations and outreach at Stennis. Drone technology has multiple capabilities and applications. The drone is a tool in your toolbox and like any other it has a purpose and limitations, but drones have proven to be very useful in many situations.
Given modern lightweight cameras and other sensors, drones have become highly innovative and versatile flight tools. NASA uses drone technology for a variety of reasons, such as aerial photography, surveys, and mapping.
In Stennis, drone flights recently recorded images of Latest RS-25 test February 24. The drone captured a live video of the test event and ground drainage of liquid oxygen. The information in the video is essential for planning future tests by demonstrating the behavior of oxygen at peak discharge.
A drone captures high-quality images on December 15, 2021 of an ongoing project to replace high-pressure water lines at the Stennis Space Center A test complex.
Stennis drones also track construction progress and log data for historical purposes. Aerial camera images provide high quality digital recording with timestamps. For example, last year, a drone captured the only 4K footage ever. hot fire test From the base stage of NASA’s Space Launch System on the B-2 test platform. The hot fire was Stennis’ most powerful test in more than 40 years, and 4K drone footage provided four times the resolution of HD ground-based cameras.
Drones at NASA’s Stennis and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans also captured images of damaged surfaces after Hurricanes Zita and Ida. Aerial images allowed the center’s management to quickly assess damage to the roof and relay this information to NASA Headquarters in Washington. The use of drones to conduct inspections in these hard-to-reach places significantly reduces inspection times.
Safety is another important benefit of using drones. Drones offer unique capabilities for obtaining close-up views of life-threatening situations.
“We had a problem with one of our sets of high-frequency antennas,” Peterson said. “The network was damaged and posed a safety issue for workers on the ground. Using the drone, we were able to safely check the antenna, fix the problem, and order a replacement part. These drone images saved nearly $10,000, eliminated the risk of exposure for people climbing the tower, and reduced Downtime.
NASA isn’t the only organization using the Stennis drones. Currently, NASA and Innovative Imaging and Research have drones that frequently fly over the Stennis skies. Depending on the payload, software, and data collected from each drone, drones provide unique and easy-to-deploy perspectives.
“I see drones playing a bigger role in operations and maintenance as technology continues to grow and we expand our program,” Peterson said. “We plan to expand payloads and move to photovoltaic/infrared processes that will allow us to inspect buildings, critical infrastructure, and facilities such as power lines and substations.”
As NASA integrates drone mapping processes into existing software, future digitization should allow the creation of real-time 2D or 3D maps and models. Each can achieve an accuracy of up to two centimeters. This ability can reduce time and cost compared to traditional scanning.