High altitude unmanned air system for atmospheric science missions

S. J. Johnston, A. Sobester, J. P. Scanlan, N. S. O'Brien, E. E. Hart, C. I. Crispin, S. J. Cox

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper is a record of some of the design and operational aspects of developing as affordable unmanned air system capable of logging and processing atmospheric observations across a range of altitudes. We consider the aeronautical and computational challenges of designing a recoverable and re-usable lighter-than-air system for delivering lightweight science payloads to the stratosphere and we examine the performance of the system through a physics-based Monte Carlo flight simulation model and the analysis of two test flights (ASTRA 7 and 8). We then review the development process to date of a self-recovering payload, based on a lightweight, balloon (or aircraft) launched glider capable of autonomous return of the instruments to a preordained collection site. We also consider possible future extensions of the technology, including a multi-vehicle system designed to enable the construction of an emulator (surrogate model) of an atmospheric quantity across a specified block of airspace.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication11th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference, 20-22 September 2011, Virginia Beach, VA
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781600869419
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2011
Event11th AIAA Aviation, Technology, and Operations Conference - Virginia Beach, United States
Duration: 20 Sept 201122 Sept 2011


Conference11th AIAA Aviation, Technology, and Operations Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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