Drag-line sensor for drone assisted meteorite detection
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 02:46 authored by Dominic Su
Meteorites are great scientific materials in the study of astronomy, planetary geology and astrobiology. They not only provide a glimpse into the wider cosmos, but also stimulate research into the respective fields (stated above), due to their unique material structure and properties. This prompts technological innovations that aid in the detection and identification of these scientific marvels. Current detection methods rely heavily on visual identification or with specialised handheld magnetic sensory equipment. This task is labour intensive and requires large amounts of time to survey suspected landing zones. These zones may have hazardous environments that traverse different land formations and as such prove to be unreachable by researchers and enthusiasts. To alleviate these hardships in the discovery of meteorites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) may be employed. These versatile vehicles are capable of traversing a multitude of environments with a wide range of temperatures and altitudes. Alongside their affordability and functionality, these vehicles are essentially modular, therefore making them transformable to suit any sensory needs, thus reducing equipment costs and labour. The design of magnetic sensory equipment can prove to be invaluable, and the effects of sensor orientation are thoroughly investigated in this document. As such, a key component of this project was based on the effectiveness of a pair of fluxgate magnetometers (Stefan Mayer FLI-500) in a dragline setup and their ability to detect the items of interest, meteorites. Through numerous tests based on susceptibility to both relatively strong magnetic fields (as generated by a bar magnet) and weak magnetic fields (generated from a meteorite's residue magnetic field) and the capabilities of the sensors themselves, the document aims to quantify the sensor's usefulness. In addition to experimental methods, the feasibility of operating the system in conjunction with a micro-controller will provide a plausible system with capabilities ranging from acquisition of sensor data in real time to storage and processing of acquired data to displaying said data either on a display or through wireless communication. However, it is important to note that the preliminary design, prototyping and coding of the sensor suite will have to be refined and completed to allow for actual use in a realistic environment.