In-situ Airborne Sampler for Advanced Guided Dropsonde
The proposed innovation is a low-cost, retrievable and reusable, autonomously guided dropsonde capable of in-situ atmospheric measurements. The proposed effort will focus on the engineering work involved with the retrieval of volcanic ash plume samples. This work will build upon a previous NASA SBIR Phase I project Latitude Engineering completed in 2011: the development of an Advanced Guided Dropsonde (AGD). Though the tested prototype received favorable reviews, funding restructuring of the SBIR program within NASA prevented funding for Phase II. To keep the momentum behind this innovative airborne platform, Latitude Engineering is proposing to build upon this accomplishment: refine the current dropsonde design and develop a sampling system for atmospheric particulates that will be integrated into this 4 cm diameter research vessel. Miniaturized particulate sampling equipment for airborne missions is not commercially available. Even for full scale systems, many research programs develop their own collection and sensor systems. With the small size limitations of the AGD, a multi-stage particulate sampler can be developed that can collect size segregated particulate including aerosols. With the significant need for atmospheric particulate sampling, the AGD can offer unprecedented access to atmospheric samples including those at high altitudes.The key goals of this Phase I proposal are to demonstrate the capability of the AGD to be released from a host manned aircraft, collect an atmospheric particulate sample from a pre-programmed altitude and location, and deliver the protected sample to a pre-programmed recovery area. This system, engineered to be cost compatible with existing dropsonde launch systems, is recoverable and re-useable.
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