PlanetaryBalloon Version 5.0 is a software package for the design of meridionally lobed planetary balloons. It operates in a Windows environment, and programming was done in Visual Basic 6. By including the effects of circular lobes with load tapes, skin mass, hoop and meridional stress, and elasticity in the structural elements, a more accurate balloon shape of practical construction can be determined as well as the room-temperature cut pattern for the gore shapes. The computer algorithm is formulated for sizing meridionally lobed balloons for any generalized atmosphere or planet. This also covers zero-pressure, overpressure, and super-pressure balloons. Low circumferential loads with meridionally reinforced load tapes will produce shapes close to what are known as the "natural shape."

The software allows for the design of constant angle, constant radius, or constant hoop stress balloons. It uses the desired payload capacity for given atmospheric conditions and determines the required volume, allowing users to design exactly to their requirements. The formulations are generalized to use any lift gas (or mixture of gases), any atmosphere, or any planet as described by the local acceleration of gravity.

PlanetaryBalloon software has a comprehensive user manual that covers features ranging from, but not limited to, buoyancy and super-pressure, convenient design equations, shape formulation, and orthotropic stress/strain.

This program was written by Rodger Farley of Goddard Space Flight Center


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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