NOAA recently operated and recovered a Puma Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) aboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster. This was one of the first missions of its kind to be conducted from a NOAA ship.
In this mission, a NOAA team developed Standard Operating Procedures for safe, efficient, and effective operations; tested the procedures to ensure they were appropriate; conducted flights to locate, identify, and track targets (such as a life-sized mock sea turtle); and introduced the system to potential future users. A total of five flights were conducted. In the future, NOAA researchers hope to use the Puma to monitor areas within national marine sanctuaries.
Since the NOAA Puma is operated by remote pilots, it is uniquely suited to collect data in dangerous or remote areas of the ocean. This data may be used in a variety of applications, from improving forecasts to protecting lives, property, and resources.