Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML) and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) scientists efficiently examined a brand new technique for high-altitude air sampling and instrument restoration from Might 13-25, 2021. The sphere marketing campaign on the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and Edwards Air Force Base, California examined the Excessive-altitude Operational Return Unmanned System (HORUS), a 6-foot wingspan, transportable, fixed-wing glider for returning the AirCore and scientific devices from the stratosphere.
Just like an ice core, the AirCore atmospheric sampling system collects a “core” of air vertically by the ambiance. Excessive-altitude balloons carry the system — inside the HORUS airframe — to the higher ambiance reaching 75,000 toes above the imply sea degree (MSL), the place the balloon releases the payload. The AirCore began to gather air from 72,000 toes MSL to the touchdown spot.
Excessive-altitude Operational Return Unmanned System (HORUS). Picture Credit score: Sonja Wolter|GML&CIRES
Throughout its descent, the HORUS auto-piloted the instrumentation to a predetermined touchdown web site by way of an onboard laptop. Reaching speeds of greater than 200 knots over the bottom in the beginning of the glide section, HORUS was in a position to make up for the greater than 60-knot winds that it encountered at 40,000 toes through the balloon ascent. Thus, HORUS is able to bringing the scientific instrumentation devices from effectively over 75,000 toes MSL again to a location near its preliminary launch web site.
At 1,000 toes above floor degree (AGL), a parachute was deployed, slowing the system and scientific instrumentation and enabling a tender touchdown. With the confirmed parachute deployment functionality, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has indicated that customers don’t want to accumulate a waiver to “see and keep away from” different plane, so long as HORUS is underneath parachute under 18,000 toes MSL.
A parachute was deployed at 1,000 toes MSL for a tender touchdown. Picture Credit score: NASA
The FAA “see and keep away from” requirement for unmanned aerial techniques (UAS) between 400 toes and 18,000 toes MSL is in place as a result of small plane flying at this altitude vary usually lack the power to detect the placement and ID beacons that planes flying above 18,000 toes MSL are required to hold. Nonetheless, balloons and parachutes are waived from the necessity to “see and keep away from under 18,000 toes MSL.
With an auto-piloted glide to a predetermined location earlier than it reaches 18,000 toes and the drift underneath parachute to the ultimate touchdown spot, the HORUS can meet FAA necessities, save vital time for the launch crew to recuperate the science bundle, and vastly enhance the variety of probably locations that scientists can acquire information.
The success of this area marketing campaign brings the NOAA USRTO-funded HORUS to a Know-how Readiness Degree of 8 out of a doable 9, indicating that it’s not totally operational however has been demonstrated in the identical setting required for operational deployments. It marks an thrilling alternative for all of NOAA’s atmospheric analysis as a result of it permits balloon-borne packages to be deployed and retrieved on the similar location.
With HORUS, scientists can launch high-value science packages everywhere in the world to gather information that enhance climate and local weather fashions, which have been restricted till now due to uncertainties in winds, in addition to water and terrain hazards. This mannequin of working balloon-borne packages opens up many different industrial alternatives outdoors of each academia and authorities analysis.
Schematic of proposed Idea of Operations (CONOPS) plan in unrestricted airspace for operational Excessive-altitude Operational Return Unmanned System (HORUS) flights. Picture Credit score: Sydnee Macias|GML
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