In terms of addressable NASA markets, the SuperSwift sUAS has several unique benefits and fulfils multiple needs of the agency. The Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) Mission is in development by NASA for an October 2014 launch based on the recommendation of the National Research Council's Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space. The benefits of measuring the global hydrosphere are extensive and well documented by NASA. For SMAP specifically, the expected resolution of measurements from the passive radiometer is approximately 40 km. The SuperSwift sUAS in development is able to obtain comparable measurements to a resolution of 15 meters. This refined resolution enables two important uses of the data in support of the broader SMAP mission: validation, and resolution. In support of the prime science objectives of SMAP an extensive calibration and validation plan has been developed which articulates the need for many different data sources both before and after the spacecraft is launched. In addition to assisting with this extensive validation process, the SuperSwift sUAS will be able to augment SMAP science data products with finer resolution data near watersheds and in drought areas where local soil moisture data can provide unique information. The SuperSwift sUAS will also provide data products for regions where enhanced measurement frequency or resolution would advance research utilizing radiometer data.
The proposed system will have the ability to support FEMA in better understanding flash flood vulnerability. This utility was demonstrated in 2007 when Prof. Gasiewski led a NASA funded research effort to map soil moisture in a region of North Texas and Oklahoma that suffered from severe flooding. This data was used to provide alerts and warnings to areas susceptible to flash flooding. A SuperSwift sUAS could provide this data at a fraction of the cost and thus improve predictions for flooding events in vulnerable watersheds around the country. Providing information on vegetation density and soil moisture has a potentially powerful application in support of state and federal agencies seeking to understand, monitor, and fight wildland fires in certain circumstances. This work has been evaluated broadly by Black Swift Technologies and a proprietary white paper has been submitted to several state organizations using other sensor and system configurations. The progress made to date on developing the SuperSwift sUAS in Phase I of this project has already elicited specific interest from researchers looking at transitioning technologies to support precision agriculture applications. The Black Swift Team is work with researchers from Colorado State University to support a program with an initial SuperSwift system with the expectation of future growth as research results validate applications beyond those studied for this project.