Students: Jesse Brady

Faculty Advisor or Community Project Lead: Jeff Hoffman


The objective of this research project was to develop an sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial System) dropsonde glider. Dropsondes are small in-situ electronic instruments that are released form an aircraft. As the dropsonde falls through the atmosphere, it transmits climatic data to the researchers. Integrating an unmanned glider with current dropsonde technology promises to advance climate research through increasing the quality and quantity of data collected.

The glider airframe was designed to interface with current aircraft release systems as well as integrate the required dropsonde payload. A rigid frame design was selected over metamorphic actuation methods due decreases in weight, structural fatigue, cost, and ease of in-field operations. A flying wing configuration was selected in order to minimize required aircraft volume, allow the glider to fit laterally into the dropsonde release tube, and to decrease aircraft drag. Stability and aerodynamic optimization were achieved through the NASA PRADNTL design, which exhibits a unique wing twist in order to produce proverse yaw instead of adverse yaw.


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