Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

Santhosh K. Seelan


The rapid emergence and advancement of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) has made it possible for their incorporation into modern agriculture. Satellite imagery has been used in the past to increase yields and profits while simultaneously decreasing chemical use and environmental damage. However, satellite imagery has some limitations in regards to agriculture that sUAS has the potential to supplement and correct. This study will present the technical and legal integration of sUAS into private agriculture in the United States. Multiple flights were conducted at various altitudes to understand the lowest possible altitude for safe and useful image recovery. A comparison of satellite, manned aircraft, and sUAS was conducted to determine the relative usefulness of sUAS in contrast to other proven remote sensing platforms for crop analysis. A review of the current sUAS regulations and a possible solution for speedy and safe integration will also be presented.