Research in Engineering and Aviation

Examining Atmospheric Conditions for the Potential Exploration of Gas Giant Vortices with Autonomous Gliders

August 2012

Author(s): R.P. LeBeau, G. Bramesfeld, S.W. Warning, and Cs. Palotai

Examining Atmospheric Conditions for the Potential Exploration of Gas Giant Vortices with Autonomous Gliders. 31st Congress of the Organisation Scientific et Technique Internationale du Vol a Voile (OSTIV), Uvalde, TX August 8-15. 

Abstract

The concept of an autonomous gliding flight with a buoyancy-driven glider has been explored in Morrow et al (1996) as a possible means of investigating the atmosphere of Titan. This has inspired a consideration of the possibility of using a similar approach to the exploration of the atmosphere of the giant planets. Vortices present a particularly inviting target for this type of mission. Simulations indicate that these vortices may have regions of upwelling that could significantly extend glider-based missions. Such simulations also generate the flowfield in these regions, allowing for improved aircraft and mission design.