Lifting many types weather data instruments to high altitudes with Helikite aerostats
Helikites are undoubtedly by far the best tethered aircraft for weather monitoring and significantly contribute towards improving climate change modelling.
Helikites can fly in very high winds that defeat these all other aerostats. This enables scientists to generate data whenever they wish for atmospheric research. Before Helikites existed, this sort of timeliness was impossible and huge amounts of data was simply not collected.
Each Helikite is tethered that 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.
The smallest of tethered Helikites can fly thousands of feet high, above the capabilities of other types of tethered airborne platform 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 long periods would require an expensive manned aircraft that would also heavily disturb the atmosphere thus making some measurements, such as cloud droplet monitoring, difficult to collect accurately. Drones and fixed wing UAV’s can nowadays often take weather measurements, but electric drones have very short endurance and larger gasoline drones are expensive and often dangerous, or illegal, to operate in certain places.
Smaller sized Helikites can be kept inflated and in 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.
Having no rotors, Helikites do not disturb the air surrounding them, thus allowing the best possible sensitivity for atmospheric measurement, which is critical for many research opportunities. Helikites significantly expand the possibilities and boundaries of airborne research and aid climate predictions.
Helikite Monitors the Clouds - Twice Across the Atlantic Ocean
In the spring of 2019, a 250m3 Desert Star Helikite was flown at over 5,000ft into the clouds, from a Max Planck Institute research ship and towed all the way across the Atlantic from Rio-de-Janeiro to Portugal. Almost constantly flying for a period of 25 days, the Helikite lifted approximately 60Kg of highly sensitive instruments that measured cloud droplets using lasers. A smaller 34m3 Desert Star Helikite was also
utilised. This significantly contributed to the understanding of cloud droplet formation necessary to improve climate computer models. This investigation was not 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 possibly the best cloud measurement platform as they can go at exactly the speed of the cloud if required providing exceedingly accurate measurements.
Helikite Measures Cloud Droplets Above Swiss Mountains
In 2018 the Swiss research organisation ETH used a 175m3 Desert Star Helikite to lift 30Kg of instruments up to 5,000ft above a mountain to calibrate cloud droplets using laser technology. This was very successful as the Helikite held the instrument very steadily even in the strong and turbulent winds above the mountain 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 tethersondes on their flying line, because of their ability to fly reliably in the turbulent lower atmosphere where boundary layer research needs to be undertaken. These tethersondes 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 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 superb and 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 °F or °C
Current, average, and maximum air velocity
Time and date
What are Helikites?
Helikite aerostats are tethered helium kites used extensively in the UK, USA, Europe and around the world. They are proven in harsh conditions: from extreme heat and sand in the Middle East to frozen conditions in the Arctic, the Helikite takes it all in its stride to complete the mission at hand.