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Volunteer Light Aircraft Pilots Needed for Scientific Research

January 14, 2016 - The Citizen Science and Harmful Algae Bloom Monitoring program is calling for volunteer GA pilots to help track Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) in bodies of water across the country.

HABs, which are prevalent in 46 of the lower 48 states and which caused the shutdown of Toledo, Ohio’s municipal water supply in August 2014, are currently being tracked at high altitudes of 40,000 feet, producing insufficient data.

General aviation aircraft that collect data flying at lower altitudes offer better image resolution, less cloud coverage limitations, and less delay in transmitting data.

EAA Flight Advisor and Technical Counselor Terry Schubert and LSA pilot/owner and NASA physicist Dr. Rafat Ansari began tracking HABs in a Long-EZ at 3,000 feet in 2014, and said they are looking for more volunteer pilots for their program.

GoPro cameras mounted on volunteers’ aircraft capture and record images every 5 seconds over a given GPS track. The tracks would be flown at approximately 2,500 feet, and upon landing the GPS track would be merged with the GoPro video and uploaded to a university website for dissemination to researchers.

Interested pilots can contact Ansari, the program head, at rafat.r.ansari@NASA.gov or Schubert, the program’s pilot coordinator, at jschuber@juno.com.

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