Low altitude ultra-long endurance aerial capability has broad applications outside of NASA, including other environmental research organizations and government agencies, as well as for maritime surveillance, distant search and rescue and other functions for a broad range of public and civil entities. The platform will reach a system maturity to allow maximum endurance missions by a broad range of civil and public entities at a time that coincides with the FAA time frame for broad integration of UAS into the national airspace. This integration will greatly expand the market beyond the mostly government customers that exists today.
The proposed development will play a useful role for NASA, particularly in conjunction with Operation ICE Bridge. This program is intended as a stopgap for polar ice mapping using NASA's aerial assets until the launch of ICESat-II in 2014-15. The wide area coverage needed by NASA to assist in this mission necessitates a low-altitude long endurance unmanned aircraft capable of reliably operating in extremely cold conditions.