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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

A Dropsonde UAV for Atmospheric Sensing in a Turbulent Environment, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Dropsondes are one of the primary atmospheric measurement tools available to researchers. Current dropsondes are deployed with a free fall parachute trajectory, allowing no flight path control and requiring the deployment aircraft to fly close to the target. Adding an extended, guided range capability to the dropsonde will allow much greater mission flexibility by providing significant geographic and temporal coverage of areas of interest. Barron Associates, Inc. will accomplish this through an innovative winged dropsonde that launches from a regular dropsonde launch tube, and deploys wing and tail control surfaces, and a propeller, starts the engine, and executes the mission under horizontal, powered flight. The Phase I vehicle will focus on avionics and sensor integration, vehicle prototyping and flight testing of a long-endurance version of the vehicle. The vehicle will be equipped with a pressure, temperature and humidity sensor and a wind sensor which is extended out the front of the vehicle to allow accurate measurement. The vehicle will also be equipped with gas sensors, a custom autopilot board and a long-range telemetry system. High-turbulence operation is highly desirable and a portion of the Phase I effort will go towards researching the vehicle configuration and software enhancements necessary to support operations in a highly turbulent environment. The end result of the Phase I will be a flight tested, long-endurance, guided dropsonde vehicle, and a feasible Phase II plan for enhancing the vehicle to support high-turbulent operations, allowing use for hurricane, volcanic plume, and wildfire atmospheric science. More »

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