The AeroPod, developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, is a passive device that uses aerodynamic forces to stabilize an instrument package suspended from a kite or tethered blimp. The AeroPod’s design for steadying and damping payloads includes the use of a tail boom and fin combination. It is a novel design and provides a relatively simple alternative to the traditional methods for suspending equipment from kites or blimps. It is a low-altitude custom remote sensing platform craft designed for, but not limited to, agricultural and environmental research purposes. AeroPods can be used for a variety of remote sensing and in-situ observations.
NASA’s AeroPod is better than the traditional Picavet pulley-style suspension system for kite-flight because it’s lightweight, simple to construct, and has no moving parts. Furthermore, the AeroPod design is beneficial for the traditional tethered blimp suspension technique where tether motion is translated directly to the sensor system, because the AeroPod is free of direct motions of the tether. It is able to accommodate many different-sized instruments, even bulky ones, and offers a low-cost alternative to other remote-sensing and observation techniques.
Possible applications include agricultural and environmental research, observing and documenting forest canopy and cover, taking wetland studies, archeological and geological mapping, urban pattern mapping, and crop monitoring.