A remotely piloted aircraft will fly over the largest coffee plantation in the United States, located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, to test the commercial use of a solar-powered uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) in agriculture.

“It works like a mobile sky satellite that is equipped with very unique high-resolution imaging cameras designed for Earth resource monitoring,” said Dr. Stanley Herwitz, the principal investigator of the UAV Coffee Project and a professor of Earth science at Clark University, Worcester, Mass. “The aircraft is solar powered, which makes it environmentally friendly and, in the future, capable of very long-duration flight.”

Researchers envision that ultimately these aircraft will fly over wildfires, floods and helping forest firefighters, disaster relief workers and farmers by providing near real-time high-resolution imagery.

Live interviews will originate from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Reporters will be able to ask questions of Herwitz and some of his team members from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. who are participating in a test flight of the UAV.
To book a window for an interview on Thursday, Sept. 26, between 6:00 a.m and 10:00 a.m. EDT (12:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time), call Victoria Steiner at 650/604-0176 or e-mail at: vsteiner@mail.arc.nasa.gov

Possible Questions for Herwitz:

  • ¸ What is a UAV and how does it work?
  • ¸ How can a UAV help agriculture and resource management and disaster recovery?
  • ¸ Who pilots the aircraft remotely?
  • ¸ What type of imaging systems does it use?
  • ¸ What are other commercial applications of UAVs?

The interviews will be broadcast on Telstar 5 (Ku-Band satellite), transponder 25K at 97 degrees west, vertical polarization with the downlink frequency of 12144 Mhz.
B-roll of the aircraft, coffee plantation, various crops and natural disasters will be available via satellite during the live shots.