To date, it has not been possible to apply 3D sonic anemometers on tethersondes or similar atmospheric research platforms due to the motion of the supporting platform. A tethersonde module including both a 3D sonic anemometer and associated motion correction sensors has been developed, enabling motion-corrected 3D winds to be measured from a moving platform such as a tethersonde.

Blimps and other similar lifting systems are used to support tethersondes — meteorological devices that fly on the tether of a blimp or similar platform. To date, tethersondes have been limited to making basic meteorological measurements (pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind speed and direction). The motion of the tethersonde has precluded the addition of 3D sonic anemometers, which can be used for high-speed flux measurements, thereby limiting what has been achieved to date with tethersondes. The tethersonde modules fly on a tether that can be constantly moving and swaying. This would introduce enormous error into the output of an uncorrected 3D sonic anemometer. The motion correction that is required must be implemented in a low-weight, low-cost manner to be suitable for this application. Until now, flux measurements using 3D sonic anemometers could only be made if the 3D sonic anemometer was located on a rigid, fixed platform such as a tower. This limited the areas in which they could be set up and used.

The purpose of the innovation was to enable precise 3D wind and flux measurements to be made using tethersondes. In brief, a 3D accelerometer and a 3D gyroscope were added to a tethersonde module along with a 3D sonic anemometer. This combination allowed for the necessary package motions to be measured, which were then mathematically combined with the measured winds to yield motion-corrected 3D winds.

At the time of this reporting, no tethersonde has been able to make any wind measurement other than a basic wind speed and direction measurement. The addition of a 3D sonic anemometer is unique, as is the addition of the motioncorrection sensors.

This work was done by John Bognar of Anasphere, Inc. for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16310-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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