Modular Aerial Sensing System (MASS)

The MASS is a portable package of high-resolution instrumentation built specifically for airborne remote sensing applications. Instrumentation includes an airborne topographic lidar integrated with video, infrared, and hyperspectral imaging systems. The system is coupled to a highly accurate GPS-aided inertial measurement unit (GPS IMU), permitting airborne measurements of the sea surface displacement, temperature, and kinematics. These data are used to measure ocean waves, currents, Stokes drift, sea surface height (SSH), ocean transport and dispersion, and biological activity. Hydrological and terrestrial applications include measurements of snow cover, sand erosion, and the built environment. The MASS has over 500 hours of accumulated flight time over the course of over 20 different campaigns and has been installed on Cessna 206, Partenavia P-68, and DHC-6 Twin Otter fixed wing aircrafts as well as on a Bell 206 helicopter.

MASS Instrumentation:
Riegl Q680i scanning waveform lidar
Flir SC6700SLS longwave IR camera
IO Industries Flare 12M125-CL video camera
Specim AisaKESTREL10 hyperspectral camera
Nikon D810 still camera
Heitronics KT19.85 II infrared thermometer
Novatel SPAN LN200 with PwrPak7 GPS IMU


MASS Media

Datasheet PDF for MASS system.

Image gallery of the MASS installed in various configurations. Click on images for a description.

Installation timelapse of an older iteration of the MASS at Aspen Helicopter in Oxnard, California on a Partenavia P68 in June 2015.


MASS Related Publications

A selection of Modular Aerial Sensing System (MASS) related publications.

General Description and Capabilities:

The Modular Aerial Sensing System (Melville et al., 2016)

Ocean Surface Topography and Kinematics:

A Broadband View of the Sea Surface Height Wavenumber Spectrum (Villas Bôas et al., 2022)

Observations of Strongly Modulated Surface Waves and Wave Breaking Statistics at a Submesoscale Front (Vrećica et al., 2022)

Lifecycle of a Submesoscale Front Birthed from a Nearshore Internal Bore (Haney et al., 2021)

Modulation of Surface Gravity Waves by Internal Waves (Lenain et al., 2021)

The Contribution of High-Frequency Wind-Generated Surface Waves to the Stokes Drift (Lenain et al., 2020)

Airborne Measurements of Surface Wind and Slope Statistics over the Ocean (Lenain et al., 2019)

Untangling a Web of Interactions Where Surf Meets Coastal Ocean (Lerczak et al., 2019)

Measurements of the Directional Spectrum across the Equilibrium Saturation Ranges of Wind-Generated Surface Waves (Lenain et al., 2017)

Surface Measurements: Observations of Surface Wave-Current Interaction (Romero et al., 2017)

Nearshore Dye Tracer Evolution:

Coincident Observations of Dye and Drifter Relative Dispersion over the Inner Shelf (Romero et al., 2019)

Observations and Modeling of a Tidal Inlet Dye Tracer Plume (Feddersen et al., 2016)

Aerial Imaging of Fluorescent Dye in the Near Shore (Clark et al., 2014)

Land Topography:

Southern California Coastal Response to the 20152016 El Niño (Young et al., 2018)

San Clemente Island Baseline LiDAR Mapping Final Report (Chadwick et al., 2016)