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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some FAQ's which potential applicants might find useful.

Who is eligible to borrow the equipment?
The equipment is available on loan to researchers from UK universities and research institutes. The equipment can also be hired by researchers from outside the UK and from the commercial sector.
What is the cost of hiring the equipment for a commercial application?
No charge is made to UK academic and NERC institute applicants, with the exception of the Headwall Co-Aligned UAV system . More information on applying for this system can be found below. Commercial rates will be charged to applicants from outside the UK and from the commercial sector. For details of current commercial rates, please contact the FSF Operations Manager.
How can I borrow one of FSF's UAV systems?
With the exception of the Headwall system (see below), you can apply for a UAV system through the same application process as with other equipment. The only additional requirement is that you must have a competent pilot. Guidelines for pilot competence can be found here.
Do you provide training for the UAV systems?
Like all of our equipment, we will train you in the operation of the spectroscopy equipment, with best-practice, science leading techniques. We can advise on how best to operate the UAV with the attached equipment, but we do not teach you how to fly a UAV. You must ensure you / your pilot meets the FSF pilot guidelines when you come to Edinburgh for training.
Can I apply for FSF's Headwall Hyperspectral Imager?
The Headwall Co-Aligned UAV system is currently only available when written in to a NERC grant application. This is due to the expense of the system, and the additional technical requirements in planning and flying this system.
There are several different types of spectroradiometer. Can you advise on which one is suitable for my work?
Yes. We encourage applicants to contact the Facility to discuss their individual requirements. The technical specifications of each of the Facility instruments are also available online .
How do I apply?
All applicants are required to submit a Loan Application form. Applications for use in connection with postgraduate studentships should be made by the student's supervisor.
And when should the application form be sent in?
To facilitate scheduling of instrument loans completed application forms should be sent to the Facility a minimum of 12 weeks before the start of the requested loan period. Applications are reviewed at the following deadlines:
  • 1st November for loans in the Summer Period - from March to August
  • 1st June for loans in the Winter Period - from September to February
But what happens if I miss the deadline, or if I need the equipment urgently?
We can only consider late or urgent applications, (excluding commercial requests), in exceptional circumstances, and ask that they be accompanied by a letter of explanation.
Who decides whether my application is accepted?
Applications are reviewed and graded on the basis of the scientific merit of the proposed study by the members of the NERC FSF Steering Committee. The Steering Committee exists to oversee the operation of the Facility and comprises the Facility Director, Facility Manager, four experts from the UK remote sensing community, and a representative from NERC Scientific Services.
What happens next?
Successful applicants are then contacted by the FSF Operations Manager to discuss suitable dates for their loan. Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to resubmit, following consultation with the Facility Manager or relevant Steering Committee member.
Does the Facility consider long loans, for example, 3 months?
Yes, providing the science behind the application demands it, long loans will definitely be considered.
What happens if I want the equipment at the same time as somebody else?
The Facility instruments are often heavily oversubscribed, especially during the UK summer months, and clashes in the scheduling of loans can occur. Priority in cases like these is determined primarily by the application's review grade. More often though, we can work around scheduling problems by taking advantage of applicants' flexibility with the timing of their loan.
Are there any slack periods during the year?
The Facility has fewer loans to schedule during the UK winter months, the exception being loans for use in the Antarctic and Australia for example. However, we often use this time ourselves to perform essential maintenance and instrument calibrations, and undertaking our own in-house research.
My application has been accepted, that's great. But I've never used a spectroradiometer before!
Don't worry! If you have not previously used any spectroradiometer, (or a particular instrument), a training session will be conducted at the Facility. Training sessions are tailored to the needs and experience of the user, and cover all aspects of instrument handling and operation, data collection and data processing. Training is usually conducted at the time of instrument collection.
How long does the training take?
Depending on the prior experience of the user, training sessions can take between one hour, for refamiliarisation, to a full day for novice users.
What happens if I forget how to use the equipment when I'm in the field?
We provide users with equipment manuals and/or field guides, and other supporting documentation. Facility staff are also available to provide advice via telephone or email during normal working hours.
What about collecting the equipment from the Facility ? What happens if my work is overseas?
Users are responsible for the collection of the equipment from Edinburgh, either by themselves or, where possible, by courier. Users are also responsible for shipment of equipment overseas, and should take every precaution against damage. Again, Facility staff are available to provide advice on instrument shipment and any customs requirements. The user must fulfil HM Customs and Excise requirements for exit and prompt re-entry of equipment to the United Kingdom.
The equipment looks very expensive. Is it insured ? Do I need to get insurance?
Contact the FSF Operations Manager for details on insurance.
What happens if the equipment breaks down?
We ask users to notify the Facility immediately of any loss or damage that occurs to the equipment whilst it is in their charge. Modifications and repairs must not be carried out without the permission of the Facility Manager. However, we fully appreciate the need for our users to obtain the maximum instrument usage in what can be a short period of time, so every effort is made to overcome any breakdown without necessitating the return of the equipment to the Facility.
If bad weather prevents data collection can the equipment be loaned again?
Yes. Where possible the loan will be rescheduled, subject to instrument availability.
I need to use the equipment again. Do I have to apply again?
That depends. Equipment can be made available for recurrent loans over the course of a field season, without the need for separate applications. In general, users are expected to re-apply every field season.
Can FSF staff collect data for users?
Yes. FSF staff are available for data collection for commercial loans. Contact the FSF Operations Manager for further details.
I have collected a lot of data. Does the FSF provide software for processing this data?
Yes. The Facility aims to provide software to process data to absolute units of reflectance, radiance or irradiance. We also aim to provide software for basic post-processing routines, such as data visualisation, averaging, resampling and convolution to in-band reflectances.
Can you provide advice on what processing should be done?
Yes. Facility staff will be pleased to provide users with specific advice where required.
Do I have to complete any forms after the loan?
Yes. We ask users to complete a Loan Report form one months after the end of the loan and a Science Report is required 1 year after completion of a loan. Completion of these forms is essential to us, ensuring continued quality control of both the instruments and the Facility and for completion of our annual report to NERC to ensure continued funding. Failure to return these forms could result in the SC imposing sanctions on future applications.

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