NEON's Mobile Deployment Platforms

March 21, 2021

NEON's Mobile Deployment Platforms

Did you know you can request your own mobile NEON site? We're excited to get our Mobile Deployment Platforms (MDPs) out into the field and working for you! Learn how to request an MDP, what measurements it can take, costs, potential use cases, and more!

Join us for a webinar to learn all about the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Mobile Deployment Platforms.

Last year’s historic wildfires were a vivid display of the important role disturbance plays in shaping our landscapes and likely catalyzed new research questions for many in the ecological community. For researchers wanting to study such disturbances, or to supplement their field work, NEON’s Mobile Deployment Platforms (MDPs) are an ideal tool and asset.

NEON maintains a fleet of five Mobile Deployment Platforms (MDPs) that can be delivered to PI-chosen sites across the U.S. MDPs use the same sensors, processing algorithms, and data QA/QC criteria as standard NEON sites, but can be rapidly deployed to recent disturbance events or ongoing research projects. Essentially, an MDP is a personalized NEON site allowing researchers to collect standardized NEON data (atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic) at the location of their choosing.

Each of NEON’s five MDPs consists of a core supporting infrastructure for deploying sensors in terrestrial and/or aquatic environments.

Core infrastructure includes:
* Rohn25G tower that can be configured for various heights up to 100 feet
* Mobile instrument support hut housed on a trailer
* Ability to tie into on-site power
* Ability to link to remote network communications (e.g., cellular network, satellite)
* Configurable array of atmospheric, aquatic, and soil sensors
* Ability to incorporate additional PI instrumentation

A deployed MDP is maintained by NEON science and engineering teams for the duration of the campaign. Data collected by MDPs are processed by the NEON program and delivered to the research team. NEON also provides MDP users with a customized data skills workshop to assist faculty and students in fully leveraging data collected by the MDP and the broader network.

Under our mandate from the National Science Foundation (NSF), MDPs are deployed on a cost recoverable basis - NEON must recoup base costs for deployments. For this reason, external funding is required for researchers requesting deployment of an MDP. Funding can be sought through opportunities from several agencies including, NASA (e.g., ROSES, Terrestrial Ecology Program), USDA, and NSF (e.g., RAPIDs for quick turnaround for studying disturbance events or EAGERs).