Impact of 3-D Attitude Variations of a UAV Magnetometry System on Magnetic Data Quality
Walter, Callum A.
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Optically pumped vapour magnetometers have an orientation dependency in measuring the scalar component of the ambient magnetic field which leads to challenges for integration with mobile platforms. Quantifying the 3-D attitude variations (yaw, pitch and roll) of an optically pumped vapour magnetometer, while in-flight and suspended underneath a rotary unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), aids in the successful development of reliable, high-resolution unmanned aerial vehicle magnetometry surveys. This study investigates the in-flight 3-D attitude characteristics of a GEM Systems Inc. GSMP-35U potassium vapour magnetometer suspended 3m underneath a Dà-Jiāng Innovations (DJI) S900 multi-rotor UAV. A series of UAV-borne attitude surveys quantified the 3-D attitude variations that a simulated magnetometer payload experienced while freely (or semi-rigidly) suspended underneath the UAV in fair weather. Analysis of the compiled yaw, pitch and roll data resulted in the design of a specialized semi-rigid magnetometer mount, implemented to limit magnetometer rotation about the yaw axis. A subsequent UAV-borne magnetic survey applying this specialized mount resulted in more than 99% of gathered GSMP-35U magnetic data being within industry standards. Overall, this study validates that maintaining magnetometer attitude variations within quantified limits (± 5 degrees yaw, ± 10 degrees pitch and roll) during flight can yield reliable, continuous, and high-resolution UAV-borne magnetic measurements.