Once the pre-programmed craft is airborne, it operates autonomously supported by pilot oversight from shore.
During the flight, it live-streams data compiled by a SeekOps sensor on its wing-tip to the onshore support crew. NASA originally developed this technology for the Mars Curiosity Rover.
The latest flights, conducted in November, followed previous campaigns for bp west of Shetland. The goals this year were to understand how distance from methane sources influences quantification methodology and to demonstrate that readings are consistent through repeated measurements.
In total there were six hours of flying time covering 380 nautical miles, with 216,000 atmospheric methane data points recorded; 10 methane concentration measurements taken each second; and 54,000 atmospheric methane data points collected at 250 m (820 ft) from the platform, the closest a fixed-wing UAV has flown to a bp offshore platform, Flylogix claimed.
Previous measurements took place at a distance of 500 m (1,640 ft).