Space Academy Dropsonde (SAD)
Gina Benigno, Kathleen Hoza, Spencer Lane, Brian Moore, Samira Motiwala, Kirsti Pajunen, Nathan Peck, Jacob Poldruhi
An autonomous guidance and navigation system for a dropsonde is proposed for operation in a volcano plume environment. Project objectives include tracking and controlling a dropsonde’s movements through the atmosphere while having the capability to operate in the harsh volcanic plume environment. A prototype system for guiding dropsondes will be designed and tested for a feasibility demonstration. The dropsonde prototype will consist of a cylindrical body that houses the avionics system, including but not limited to an inertial measurement unit, microcontroller and GPS device. Additionally, the dropsonde will be attached to a parachute controlled by servomechanism actuators.
The dropsonde will be tested at 500 feet by dropping the module from tall buildings and subsequently a tethered balloon after establishing stability and viability of the design. During flight test, real-time telemetry will be obtained from on-board sensors to obtain altitude and GPS data. This proof-of-concept will demonstrate a simple and low-cost solution for guiding a dropsonde system to designated target locations within a volcano plume