CLIMATE CHANGE AND WEATHER MONITORING
Lift countless types of weather data instruments to high altitudes with Helikite aerostats
Helikites are, without doubt, the best tethered aircraft for weather monitoring.
They significantly contribute towards improving climate change modelling and can fly in very high winds which overpower all other aerostats. This enables scientists to generate data for atmospheric research whenever they wish. Before Helikites, this was impossible and huge amounts of data were simply not collected.
Tethered Helikites for exceptionally accurate measurements
Each tethered Helikite allows weather instruments to be placed very accurately along the tether to facilitate excellent boundary layer measurements. This can lead to improved local weather forecasting.
Even the smallest of tethered Helikites can fly thousands of feet high – well above the capabilities of other types of tethered airborne platforms of similar size. This enables many areas of the sky that could not be reached before to be sensitively and persistently measured. Previously, getting to this part of the sky for extended periods required an expensive manned aircraft that would also heavily disturb the atmosphere, making some measurements (such as cloud droplet monitoring) difficult to collect accurately.
Nowadays, drones and fixed wing UAVs often take weather measurements, but electric drones have a very short endurance, and larger gasoline drones are expensive and often dangerous or illegal to operate in certain places.
Where can Helikites be launched from?
Smaller sized Helikites can be kept inflated on the back of a car then flown high into the sky within a few seconds. Larger Helikites can be flown from the ground, trailers, pick-up trucks, boats, and ships. Helikites can be flown safely in many places banned for drones, and air traffic permission is normally easily given for very high altitude, long endurance Helikite flights.
Thanks to a lack of rotors, Helikites do not disturb the air surrounding them, thereby allowing the best possible sensitivity for atmospheric measurement. This is, of course, critical for many research opportunities.
Helikites significantly expand the possibilities and boundaries of airborne research and aid climate predictions.
Max Planck Institute Uses Helikite to Monitor Atlantic Clouds
In spring 2019, a 250m3 Desert Star Helikite was flown at over 5,000ft into the clouds from a Max Planck Institute research ship.
It was towed all the way across the Atlantic from Rio de Janeiro to Portugal. The Helikite flew almost non-stop for a period of 25 days and lifted approximately 60kg of highly sensitive instruments which measured cloud droplets using lasers.
A smaller, 34m3 Desert Star Helikite was also used. This significantly contributed to the understanding of cloud droplet formation necessary to improve climate computer models. This kind of investigation would not be possible using any other type of airborne platform.
A second, highly successful trip across the Atlantic from Portugal to the Caribbean was completed in spring 2020. No other airborne platform in the world could have completed this work. Helikites are the best cloud measurement platform, as they can go at exactly the speed of the cloud if required, thereby providing exceedingly accurate measurements.
ETH Measures Cloud Droplets Above Swiss Mountains
In 2018, the Swiss research organisation ETH used a 175m3 Desert Star Helikite to lift 30kg worth of instruments up to 5,000ft above a mountain.
The goal was to calibrate cloud droplets using laser technology. Despite the strong, turbulent winds above the mountain, the Helikite held the instruments steady and good results were obtained. This research is ongoing.
Boundary Layer Measurement Helikites
Helikites from 2m3 up to 16m3 are very good at lifting multiple tethersonds on their flying line. This is due to their ability to fly reliably in the turbulent lower atmosphere where boundary layer research needs to be undertaken. These tethersonds send real-time information down to a ground station, thus giving excellent data on turbulence.
Little is known about how the boundary layer affects the weather and climate so a cheap, quick, and easy solution to this problem – such as the Helikite – is very welcome.
Miniature Weather Instruments Give Fast, Accurate Data When Flown from Small Helikites
Large, expensive aerostats are certainly not needed to obtain first-class weather data when using Helikites.
The highly accurate range of Kestral 5500 hand-held weather monitors can easily be lifted on the 2m3 Skyshot Helikite using the standard tripod mount. This small Helikite will fly the Kestral to over 1,000ft with ease. An 11m3 Skyhook Helikite could take it to 5,000ft.
The waterproof Kestral 5500 can measure:
Heading (true & magnetic)
Wet bulb temperature
Relative humidity, in %
Heat stress index
Air, water, and snow temperature in °F or °C
Current, average, and maximum air velocity
Time and date