Reusable microballoons, an economical alternative to satellites

Reusable microballoons, an economical alternative to satellites

Reusable microballoons

When it comes to taking high-resolution aerial photography, we generally look at full-size satellites, drones, or planes. Colorado-based Urban Sky's new Microballoon system, however, is claimed to provide high-resolution images at a much lower cost.

Each Microballoon unit consists of a small reusable stratospheric balloon, underneath the which hangs a payload module that includes a high resolution optical downward facing camera - other imaging sensors, such as infrared or hyperspectral cameras, can also be used.

While still grounded, the 2.5-meter diameter balloon is partially filled with helium gas, which expands in volume as the balloon rises from its mobile launch point. Once the desired altitude was reached - usually somewhere over 18,288 m - the helium expanded, bringing the diameter of the balloon to 5.5 m. From that moment on, any excess gas simply escapes from the air intakes strategically positioned at the bottom of the balloon. In this way, the volume of the gas is maintained, so the balloon remains at the desired altitude.

The Microballoon's camera then begins taking pictures, using a custom designed lens designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the stratosphere. . As the balloon glides horizontally through the air, the camera rotates to capture as large an area of ​​the ground as possible - the speed at which it rotates is determined by the speed at which the balloon moves.

The resulting images they are digitally stitched together, resulting in a composite photo with no gaps of the entire area in question. Urban Sky co-founder / CEO Andrew Antonio tells us that using this configuration, it is possible to view approximately 1,000 square kilometers per hour.

Once the photo shooting process is complete, a ground crew remotely activates the payload module to free themselves from the bottom of the balloon. That said, a line still runs from the module, on one side of the Microballoon, to a cap located at the top of the balloon.

Therefore, as the module falls freely, pull the balloon so that it goes upside down. down, allowing all the helium to escape from what was previously its bottom. A parachute is deployed at a lower altitude, slowing the descent of the payload module and the connected balloon. Both are recovered for reuse once they land on the ground.

These Reusable “Microballoons” Could Put Satellites To The Test

A Colorado-based company has invented a system that can offer far higher-resolution pictures from high-altitude balloons than satellites. In addition, the reusability of balloons allows for significantly cheaper cost images than satellites, drones, or aircraft.

Urban Sky, created by two veterans of World View, another stratospheric ballooning company, is taking a different approach to high-altitude images. The business has created a balloon system known as “Microballoons,” which soar to altitudes of roughly 20 kilometers while carrying an image payload.

A Microballon system consists of a reusable stratosphere balloon and a payload module with a high-resolution optical camera staring down. Additional imaging sensors, such as infrared or hyperspectral cameras, can also be used.

The 2.5-meter-diameter (8.2-foot) balloon is half-filled with helium gas, and its capacity grows as it rises from the moving launching point. The helium expands after reaching the target height to fill the present 5.5 m (18 foot) balloon (18,288 m). The excess gas then escapes through a vent deliberately placed near the balloon’s bottom. Since the volume of gas is constant, the balloon remains at the desired height.

Finally, the Microballoon camera captures images with its lens, which can withstand the extreme conditions of spaceflight. As the balloon floats horizontally in the air, the camera follows it. The photos are then digitally blended to create a single image with no gaps in any impacted areas. According to Andrew Antonio, co-founder and CEO of Urban Sky, this setup can sketch approximately 1,000 square kilometers per hour.

After the photo session is finished, the ground team activates the payload module to remove itself from the bottom of the balloon. However, one line flows from the module up one side of the Microballoon to the balloon’s covering.

Then, it pulls the balloon around to the upside-down position, allowing all of the helium within to escape. Next, the parachute is fitted downward, lowering the load module and the balloon. Both are taken to be reused once they have landed back.

According to Antonio, the Microballoon system has been used by some clients and should be used across Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region by next year.

Moreover, the company has also been given a contract by the United States Air Force to develop a version of the system for real-time forest fire monitoring and funding from the National Science Foundation.

Source: Urban Sky

Powered by Blogger.