The Piper Seneca III aircraft, property of OGS, is managed by a team of expert researchers and technicians. It is equipped with the most advanced remote sensing instruments: • Lidar sensor Riegl LMS-Q560 • Hyperspectral sensor Specim Aisa Eagle 1K (Visible Near Infrared field) • Thermal camera Nec TS9260 (from 8 to 13 μm) • Digital camera Canon EOS 1Ds MkIII (21 million pixels) • Ultraportable Greenhouse Gas Analyzer (CO2, CH4, H2O) The performance of the system is very high. The aircraft can operate to a maximum height of 1500 m. The Lidar sensor can reach a spatial accuracy of 40 cm in xy and 15 cm in z axes. The hyperspectral sensor has a pixel of 70 cm for an average flight height of 1000 m; the band number can be set up to 252. The thermal camera has a pixel of 50 cm for an average flight height of 800 m. Orthophotos derived from the digital camera can reach up to 16 cm pixel on the ground. The GHG analyzer has a precision up to 300ppb for CO2 and up to 0.6 ppb for CH4. Applications of the remote sensing equipped aircraft are mostly environmental. The hyperspectral sensor allows the monitoring of vegetation health (evaluation of stress on vegetation caused by greenhouse gases). The presence of these gases can then be directly detected in the air with the Ultraportable Greenhouse Gas Analyzer. The thermal camera analyze the temperature of vegetation and any changes in the ground related to the presence of gas. With the Lidar dataset it is possible to have a precise Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the surveyed area, while the orthophotos are useful to visually identify the phenomena in the surveyed area.
The equipped Piper Seneca III will be part of EUFAR (European Facility for Airborne Research), thus operating in a European context. The instrumental equipment has been used to perform remote sensing surveys in several European projects, including CO2GeoNet, where it allowed the detection of CO2 leakages in natural laboratories (Latera, Italy and Laacher See, Germany). It will be used to monitor CO2 leakages also in the off-shore natural laboratory of Panarea island (Sicily, Italy). This aircraft is unique because it integrates different instruments on board and can eventually accommodate additional new equipment provided by researchers. Data acquired are processed by the Remote Sensing Group at OGS, where some multiparameter interpretation techniques for leakage detection have also been developed.
The aircraft can operate over the whole European territory. It can be used to perform accurate remote sensing surveys over wide areas, onshore and offshore (especially coastal areas). Data collected can be easily geographically referenced and integrated with other data, for joint analysis and interpretation. OGS personnel will organize the logistics and will decide the most proper time and atmospheric conditions for the acquisition, in accordance with the user. When necessary, training on processing and interpretation of remote sensing data will be provided.