The Airborne Research & Survey Facility (ARSF, formerly Airborne Remote Sensing Facility) is managed by NERC Scientific Services and Programme Management. It provides the UK environmental science community, and other potential users, with the means to obtain remotely-sensed data in the form of synoptic analogue and digital imagery for use in research, survey and monitoring programmes. Data offered by the facility includes:
1) Aerial photography data collected with an analogue camera, the Wild RC-10 visible NIR, in conjunction with CASI and ATM instruments.
2) Airborne Thematic Mapper (ATM): ARSF has flown two ATM instruments over the period 1982 - 2008: the Daedalus 1268 was operated from 1982 until 1998. Since 1996 and until 2008 an upgraded version - the Azimuth Systems AZ-16 was used, along with an improved data acquisition system.
3) LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data from an Optech ALTM 3033 instrument. The sensor is on loan to the ARSF only for some periods of the year from the Unit of Landscape Modelling (ULM) at Cambridge University.
4) High spectral and spatial resolution data from the Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (CASI 2). The CASI 2, produced by Itres Research of Canada, is a two-dimensional CCD array-based pushbroom imaging spectrograph operated by ARSF until 2007
5) High spectral and spatial resolution data from the AISA Eagle and Hawk hyperspectral sensors (since 2007). The AISA Eagle is a 12 bit, pushbroom, hyperspectral sensor with a 1000 pixel swath width, covering the visible and near infra-red spectrum 400 - 970nm. The AISA Hawk is a 14 bit sensor able to capture short wave infrared wavelengths, 970 - 2450nm.
The ARSF currently uses a Dornier 228 aircraft. This extensively modified aircraft is not only capable of accommodating the current ARSF core instrumentation, as well as additional experimental optical and geophysical sensors, but is also configured to deploy a range of atmospheric instrumentation and samplers. Such a comprehensive data service cannot be easily achieved by other survey techniques. The operational flying season generally spans from early March until early October. Three elements determine this period: weather, solar zenith angle and vegetation state; maintenance on the aircraft; sensor maintenance as this is performed by the manufacturers between November and January. Every day during this season, the ARSF has to make difficult decisions on whether or not to attempt flying based on weather forecasts, and to prioritise the most important projects based on many parameters. Flying schedule is available from the ARSF website.
The NEODC holds the entire archive of Airborne Thematic Mapper (ATM) and Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (CASI) data acquired by the NERC ARSF. High-resolution scanned digital versions of the entire collection of analogue photographs are now also available as well as selected LiDAR-derived elevation and terrain models for selected sites flown using the sensor.