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UAVOS performs test flight of experimental turbulence payload

UAVOS carried out the test flight of an experimental turbulence detection payload on its HiDRON stratospheric glider on 1 April.

UAVOS’ operators launched the HiDRON from a high-altitude balloon at 23,900 m/78,412 ft. A launch routine was tested in which the HiDRON transitioned from free-fall to stable horizontal flight at 23,100 m/75,787 ft.

The payload was a combination of forward-sensing turbulence detection technologies developed by the University of Kentucky (UK) and a US federal agency that UAVOS declined to specify. The flight test aimed to help researchers assess the performance of a wind probe, along with an infrasonic microphone sensor.

UAVOS said on 14 April that researchers from the US federal agency designed this special infrasound microphone to pick up the ultralow frequencies generated by turbulence in the sky. This technology is being tested on the HiDRON for both turbulence detection and aeronautical research. The US federal agency has licensed the infrasonic microphone sensor to Stratodynamics, a joint partner with UAVOS on the HiDRON.

The HiDRON glider, powered by the UAVOS autopilot, enabled the experimental turbulence detection payload instruments to capture wind velocity, direction, magnitude, and low-frequency soundwaves in a flight environment, which is not possible with a passive lift-and-drift balloon flight profile. UAVOS said on 27 April that the collected data from the payload, such as altitude, location, and wind speed, are integrated by UAVOS’ autopilot.

According to UAVOS, it is important to have forward-sensing turbulence detection on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and similar aircraft to fill the significant gaps in turbulence detection. These gaps impact suborbital vehicles and aviation in general.

Clear-air turbulence is sudden turbulence experienced during flight when there are no visible clouds or atmospheric features to warn of potential disruption.

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