SKY-HIGH RESEARCH 🎈 Sandia aerial system expert Dave Novick examines an octocopter prior to the first joint balloon-unmanned aerial system, or drone, flight. By flying the two together, researchers are able to get Arctic atmospheric temperatures with better location control than ever before. This not only provides more precise data for weather and climate models, but being able to effectively operate UASs in the Arctic is important for national security.
“The UAS and the balloon really complement each other in that the UAS has a smaller flight time, but it’s much more spatially diverse. The tethered balloon can stay up for a long time, giving you a lot of data, but it’s not easily mobile,” said Sandia atmospheric scientist Dari Dexheimer. The balloon is blown by the wind, to the limits of the tether, but the UAS can be directed to precise GPS coordinates.
Information on temperature of the atmosphere is critical for predicting weather, monitoring severe weather and improving climate models. Unlike tethered balloons or weather balloons, UASs don’t require helium, a nonrenewable resource, and can take off with less preparation.