Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Brief Bio

Geoff Bland began development of small unmanned aircraft and instrument systems for Earth science research in 1993. Activities have included platform and systems design, fabrication and test, including several pioneering unmanned aircraft utilizing then-unique electric propulsion. Development of instrument packages has focused on miniaturization, and several remote sensing and in-situ sensor systems have been, or will be flown, on NASA and commercially provided platforms in support of several collaborative research projects.

Bland is also active in the development of alternative platforms and associated instrumentation. Tethered blimps and kites have been incorporated in research and educational activities, and Bland is actively engaged in collaborative activities in a growing community of users and system developers. Education is also a core focus of Bland's work, including the recent introduction of a series of novel aquatic surface craft for hands-on training in technology, operations, and scientific investigation.

As a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program sub-topic manager for Airborne Measurement Systems, Surface and Sub-Surface Measurement Systems, and Unmanned Aircraft and Sounding Rocket Technologies, Bland works closely with numerous NASA centers and companies. University collaborations are also a key component in the effort to bring new capabilities to in-situ and remote sensing research.


Current Projects

"AEROKATS and ROVER Educational Network" (AREN), Co-I.

The AREN Cooperative Agreement education project (PI: Henry, Wayne RESA) is focused on introducing NASA's science activities using novel technologies and hands-on experiences. Kite-borne instrumentation is used to simulate satellite and aircraft based measurements and provide a foundation for using NASA Earth science data products. Robotic instrumented surface craft are used to introduce engineering concepts and develop mission operations skills.

"In-Situ Validation and Calibration of Remotely Sensed Volcanic Emission Data and Models": Co-I


In-Situ Validation and Calibration of Remotely Sensed Volcanic Emission Data and Models (Pieri, et al) encompasses sensor system development and field experiments at Turrialba, Costa Rica, and Salton Sea, CA. This research includes instrumented flights of NASA's Dragon Eye and SIERRA unmanned aircraft, tethered balloons, and kites. This project is support by NASA's Earth Surface and Interior program: 2009 -

"An Optical Scanning Subsystem for a UAS-Enabled Hyperspectral Radiometer": Co-I

Remote Sensing

An Optical Scanning Subsystem for a UAS-Enabled Hyperspectral Radiometer (Moisan, et al) - an internal research and development (IRAD) project to further develop the Wallops MicroSpectrometer system for use of medium-class unmanned aircraft. This project incorporates an array of spectrometers to capture spatial as well as spectral information, specifically in support of ocean biology: 2013 -

NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program: Sub-Topic Manger

NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program: Participating Sub-Topic Manger for "Surface and Sub-surface Measurement Systems"; COR/Technical Monitor for "Airborne Measurement Systems" and "Unmanned Aircraft and Sounding Rocket Technologies" contracts.


Research Engineer

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center - Wallops Flight Facility – Wallops Field Support Office,

1997 - Present

Mission Manager/Integration Engineer

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center - Wallops Flight Facility – Aircraft Programs Branch

1996 - 1997

Payload Manager/Performance Analyst

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center - Wallops Flight Facility - Sounding Rocket Program

1982 - 1996

Cooperative Education Student

NASA/Langley Research Center - Hampton VA

1979 - 1982


BS Aeronautics and Aerospace Engineering, Purdue University: 1981

Professional Societies

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

Unmanned Systems Program Committee Lighter Than Air Technical Committee (Secretary)

1995 - Present

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

Tethered Systems Working Group (Chair)

1996 - Present

American Geophysical Union (AGU)

2015 - Present

American Meteorological Society

2001 - Present

Professional Service

NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, sub-topic manger: Airborne Measurement Systems, Surface and Sub-surface Measurement Systems, Unmanned Aircraft and Sounding Rocket Technologies: 2005 - present


GSFC James Kerley Award 2014 for Technology

Other Professional Information

US Patent # 8,196,853, 2012 - Aerodynamically Stabilized Instrument Platform



Xi, X., M. S. Johnson, S. Jeong, et al. M. Fladeland, D. Pieri, J. A. Diaz, and G. L. Bland. 2016. Constraining the sulfur dioxide degassing flux from Turrialba volcano, Costa Rica using unmanned aerial system measurements Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 325 (10): 110-118 [10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.06.023]

de Boer, G., S. Palo, B. Argrow, et al. G. LoDolce, J. Mack, R.-S. Gao, H. Telg, C. Trussel, J. Fromm, C. N. Long, G. Bland, J. Maslanik, B. Schmid, and T. Hock. 2016. The pilatus unmanned aircraft system for lower atmospheric research Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 9 1845-1857 [10.5194/amt-9-1845-2016]

Diaz, J. A., D. Pieri, K. Wright, et al. P. Sorensen, R. Kline-Shoder, C. Arkin, M. Fladeland, G. Bland, M. Buongiorno, C. Ramirez, E. Corrales, A. Alan, O. Alegria, D. Diaz, and J. Linick. 2015. Unmanned aerial mass spectrometer systems for in-situ volcanic plume analysis J Am Soc Mass Spectrom 26 (2): 292-304 [10.1007/s13361-014-1058-x]

Pieri, D. C., J. A. Diaz, G. L. Bland, et al. M. Fladeland, Y. Madgigal, E. Corrales, O. Alegria, A. Alan, V. Realmuto, T. K. Miles, and A. Abtahi. 2013. In situ observations and sampling of volcanic emissions with NASA and UCR unmanned aircraft, including a case study at Turrialba Volcano, Costa Rica Geological Society, London, Special Publications 380 (1): 321-352 [10.1144/SP380.13]

Fladeland, M., M. Sumich, B. Lobitz, et al. R. Kolyer, D. Herlth, R. Berthold, D. McKinnin, L. Monforton, J. Brass, and G. L. Bland. 2011. The NASA SIERRA science demonstration programme and the role of small-medium unmanned aircraft for earth science investigations Geocarto International 26 157 - 163

Lawson, R. P., K. Stamnes, J. Stamnes, et al. P. Zmarzly, J. Koskuliks, C. Roden, Q. Mo, M. Carrithers, and G. L. Bland. 2011. Deployment of a Tethered-Balloon System for Microphysics and Radiative Measurements in Mixed-Phase Clouds at Ny-Ålesund and South Pole Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 28 (5): 656–670 [10.1175/2010JTECHA1439.1]

Diaz, J., D. Pieri, R. Arkin, et al. E. Gore, T. Griffin, M. Fladeland, G. L. Bland, C. Soto, Y. Madrigal, D. Castillo, E. Rojas, and S. Achi. 2010. Utilization of In-Situ Airborne Mass Spectrometer Based Instrumentation for the Study of Gaseous Emissions at Active Volcanoes International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, Special Edition on Harsh Environment Mass Spectrometry 295 (3): 105-112 [10.1016/j.ijms.2010.04.013]

Zhou, G., V. Ambrosia, A. Gasiewski, and G. Bland. 2009. Foreword to the Special Issue on Unmanned Airborne Vehicle (UAV) Sensing Systems for Earth Observations IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sensing 47 (3): 687-689 [10.1109/TGRS.2009.2013059]

Sullivan, D. G., J. Fulton, J. Shaw, and G. L. Bland. 2007. Evaluating the sensitivity of an unmanned thermal infrared aerial system to detect water stress in a cotton canopy Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers 50(6) 1955 -1962 [10.13031/2013.24091]

Nagchaudhuri, A., and G. L. Bland. 2002. UMES-AIR: A NASA-UMES Collaborative Project to Promote Experiential Learning and Research in Multidisciplinary Teams for SMET Students Journal of SMET Education: Innovation and Research


Nagchaudhuri, A., M. Mitra, L. Zhang, et al. G. Bland, T. K. Miles, J. R. Moisan, R. Wescott, T. Teays, and R. Henry. 2013. AIRSPACES: Air-propelled Instrumented Robotic Sensory Platform(s) for Assateague Coastline Environmental Studies - A Multidisciplinary Experiential Learning and Research Project at a Minority Serving Land Grant Institution Frontiers in Education Conference, 2013 IEEE 1623-1625 [10.1109/FIE.2013.6685112]

Telionis, D. P., M. Zeiger, D. Towery, et al. S. Hall, S. Gart, S. Jung, and G. Bland. 2013. A Fast-Response Probe Capable of Atmospheric Sampling in Harsh Conditions Proc. of AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference [10.2514/6.2013-4668]

Bland, G., and T. K. Miles. 2013. Advancing Earth Research Observation Kites and Tethered Systems (AEROKATS) Proc. of AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013 Conference/AIAA Tethered Systems Session

Bland, G. L., T. K. Miles, L. M. Hilliard, and D. Sullivan. 2009. Big Potential for Small UAS 33rd International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, proceedings

Ladd, G., and G. Bland. 2009. Non Military Applications for Small UAS Platforms AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, proceedings [10.2514/6.2009-2046]

Bland, G., T. K. Miles, L. M. Hilliard, and D. Sullivan. 2009. Adapting Radio Control (RC) Models for Research Roles AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, proceedings [10.2514/6.2009-2069]

Bland, G., T. K. Miles, M. Logan, M. Motter, and J. P. Bretthauer. 2007. Mini UAVs for Atmospheric Measurements AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference, proceedings [10.2514/6.2007-2759]

Nagchaudhuri, A., M. Mitra, C. Brooks, et al. T. Earl, G. Ladd, and G. Bland. 2006. Integration of Mechatronics, Geospatial Information Technology, and, Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Environmental Stewardship ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, proceedings 933-940 [10.1115/IMECE2006-15019]

Hilliard, L. M., P. H. Hildebrand, T. Markus, et al. C. M. Johnson, R. Lawrence, and G. L. Bland. 2005. Microwave Instrumentation for UAV Platforms Enabling Thin Ice Measurement AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Technical Conference, proceedings

Hilliard, L. M., G. Bland, and T. Markus. 2005. Autonomous Aerial Observation System Concepts for Microwave Remote Sensing AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Technical Conference, proceedings [10.2514/6.2005-7055]

Lawson, R. P., D. O'Conner, P. Zmarzly, et al. G. L. Bland, W. J. Wiscombe, and G. Holland. 2005. A New Cloud MicroSensor for the Aerosonde UAV AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Technical Conference, proceedings

Bland, G. L., P. L. Coronado, T. K. Miles, and J. P. Bretthauer. 2005. The AEROS Project – Experiments with Small Electric Powered UAVs for Earth Science AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Technical Conference, proceedings

Bland, G. L., P. L. Coronado, T. K. Miles, et al. J. P. Bretthauer, A. W. Lunsford, and J. Bognar. 2004. ’Sensors with Wings’ – Small UAVs for Earth Science AIAA 3rd Unmanned Unlimited Technical Conference, proceedings

Robinson, J., P. L. Coronado, X. Sun, G. L. Bland, and J. P. Bretthauer. 2003. A Small Multispectral Imaging Instrument for Chlorophyll-a Measurements from a Small UAV (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle) Oceans 2003, proceedings

Talks, Presentations and Posters


Bland, G., et al. New Tools for New Missions - UAS Offer New Capabilities, Oral Presentation AGU, San Francisco CA, December 2105



Bland, G., et al. Key Note Presentations, Montana Space Grant Student Conference and Astronomy & Aerospace Day, Bozeman MT, April 2015

May 2015

Bland, G., and T. K. Miles. 2013. Advancing Earth Research Observation Kites and Tethered Systems (AEROKATS). AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013 Conference

September 2013


Bland, G., P.A.Henry, D. Bydlowski, et al. A New Dimension for Earth Science Learning, Oral Presentation AGU, New Orleans LA, December 2017


Bland, G., P.A. Henry, B. Campbell. AEROKATS - Advancing Earth Research Observations with Kites/Terrestrial Sensors, Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute Eclipse Event, Rosman NC, August 2017

September 2017