Development of System of Remote Control “Soaring Sondes”

Perlan partner Stratodynamics has dropped RC gliders from over 100,000 feet carrying instruments over Spaceport America in New Mexico. We would like to extend their work to conduct an in-depth analysis of the downwind wavefield generated by the southern Polar Vortex. 

A small remote-control glider can be directed to specific areas of interest unlike balloon sondes, which drift with winds. We envision a system that is (a) optimized for stratospheric flight conditions; (b) launchable from both balloons and the Egret high altitude research plane; (c) recoverable so the soaring sonde can be used multiple times and does not pollute the environment (d) 90% biodegradable for the rare times it is not recovered. Additionally, we envision this technology can be scaled to create a swarm of RC soaring sondes. A sonde swarm guided by artificial intelligence would “imitate the goal-seeking behavior of a swarm of insects or flock of birds.” The “swarm” could collect many data points within a specific area of interest and could use AI technology to seek out and map stratospheric phenomena of scientific interest such as the ozone hole, space radiation, turbulence, wind shear, and more.

Funding for initial design concept: $26,000

Deploy to Patagonia: $200,000