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BALUGA One balloon release testing

BALUGA One balloon release testing

BALUGA One (Balloon- or Aircraft Launched Unmanned Glider for Atmospheric research One), our new, high altitude instrument platform underwent initial trials at the MetOffice Research Unit at Cardington.

Conducted using a tethered balloon (operated by the MetOffice), the balloon attachment system, as well as the balloon release mechanism of the new ASTRA glider was tested. With a release weight of 2kg, BALUGA One is designed to be launched from a high altitude, free balloon. Fitted with a sophisticated autopilot, BALUGA One is capable of returning its payload package to the launch location (or some other pre-determined collection site). See the Documents and Publications section for more details on the glider.

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ASTRA 7 - cloud computing from beyond the cloud

ASTRA 7 – cloud computing from beyond the cloud

ASTRA 7 was designed to demonstrate the feasibility of using a low-powered, lightweight commodity device (an HTC Trophy running Windows Phone 7) as a data logger, communications link and a portal to high performance computing resources in the cloud (through Windows Azure).

ASTRA 7 reached a maximum altitude of 18,237 meters during its 1h 16′ flight. The Segoz Logger apprunning on the WP7 operated, as designed, throughout the flight, providing location notifications to Windows Azure when in GSM range (with the Azure worker re-computing the forecast landing site each time). The maximum speed reached by ASTRA 7 was around 90mph, logged at an altitude of 10.1km, as the balloon-borne flight train was traversing the jet stream. ASTRA 7 landed 46.6 miles downrange (very close to the pre-flight prediction based on the ASTRA balloon flight simulation model of 47.7 miles). ASTRA 7 also took over 1200 photos during its flight (one of which is shown above).

The launch was covered in the press by Computer Weekly (more images) and by the Guardian.

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StratoShuttle 1

StratoShuttle 1

StratoShuttle 1

The StratoShuttle 1 pod, launched from Cheesefoot Head (near Winchester) on 28.11.2011, was the result of a Faculty of Engineering and the Environment fourth year student group design project. The aim was to lift a small instrument package into the stratosphere using a helium balloon (the pod carried a camera, which took the images shown above).

The secondary goal was to validate our trajectory prediction models, which, given an up-to-date atmospheric sounding (performed shortly before the launch) generated a forecast of the flight path of StratoShuttle 1. This flight also served as a test of our payload retrieval technology (once the balloon reaches its bursting altitude, the payload descends on a parachute, at the same time drifting in a direction and over a distance determined by the winds aloft).

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