One of the new projects onboard this DEEPEND trip is the use of a drone to capture images and video from a different perspective around the Point Sur. Thomas Wheeler is a full time drone operator who contracts with different science and engineering projects that require drone work. This trip, he is assisting Ryan Killackey and Dante Fenolio who are creating a documentary titled “Life in the Dark” which focuses on various organisms that create light.
Why use a drone? Drones are quickly becoming a standard tool that we use in all areas of science. It is very important to capture the true nature of organisms in their habitat and drones can do that with little interference. In addition, using a drone broadens the scanning area for a project so more area can be covered. Lastly, drone footage captures large amounts of data that will be analyzed and used by scientists. The different perspective that drones capture provide the public spectacular images and video of events not often seen by anyone other than the scientists.
Thomas loves that this job allows him to travel to different venues and allows him to contribute to science while doing something he loves. The eternal challenge for drone work of course, is to be able to collect data in a safe manner, in this case, not allow the drone to fall to the bottom of the ocean!
Facts about Thomas’s drone, the Inspire 2 (lovingly named Zephyr):
Battery airtime: 25 minutes
Range: up to 4 miles
Here are pictures that Jon Moore took from the initial deployment and retrieval on Day 1 of this trip, Enjoy!
Photo 1: Inspire 2 ready for launch
Photo 2: Thomas piloting the first mission Photo 3: Ryan collecting the drone on the return