High Altitude Platforms

Earth Observation (EO), GMES (Global Monitoring, Environment and Security) and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) are growing businesses which the Space Agencies already estimate to be worth over $5Bn with possibilities as varied as terrain mapping, climate change monitoring and surveillance operations. Even though Satellites are the key assets to address the identified needs in those areas, HAPs can become a key element in complex EO, GMES or GIS systems.

Satellite data validation, another task which HAPs are specially suited to perform, represents a fundamental requirement in order to access the correctness of satellite acquired monitoring data. As expectable, recent research indicates that the assimilation of satellite data with ground-based observations is fundamental in subjects as crucial as climate trend analysis. Onboard present communications equipment can replace a large number of terrestrial base stations as well as their infrastructure, which is an advantage in certain parts of the globe. High altitude platforms also provide faster convergence routes between communications and broadcasting services. HAWE provides the means to maintain a reasonably sized structure airborne, changing from its normal energy production process to a force generating configuration which remains almost immobile at altitudes close to stratosphere.

Applications:

  • EO, GMES and GIS;
  • Satellite Data Validation;
  • Communication (especially in areas with no installed telecom insfrastructure).

How it Works

The Magnus effect, the operating principle of this platform, is a physical phenomenal occurring for rotating rounded-cross section bodies (cylinders, spheres), immersed in a fluid in motion. The rotation pushes fluid against the incoming fluid in the bottom part of the body and extracts fluid in the upper part of the body; this creates region of increased pressure in the bottom part and of decreased pressure in the upper part, thus generating aerodynamic lift. This force is, hence, dependent on the speed of the flow around the platform and the rotation of the platform itself, both parameters (speed of the undisturbed fluid, U and rotating speed, w) increasing the magnitude of the Magnus effect as they increase.

 Long Endurance Aerial Platform

 There isn't presently in the market a long endurance (i.e.: permanent) and relatively stationary high altitude platform for payloads of Earth observation or telecommunications, the latest ranging from satellite repeaters at high altitudes to providing a lower cost and easily deployable mobile network infrastructure with increased line of sight range.

 The concept by which Omnidea achieves this objective is by tethering an inflatable and easily deployable platform, thus keeping the payload airborne by having this platform mildly lighter-than-air with the ability to generate by Magnus effect an order of magnitude higher aerodynamic lift force (when compared to buoyancy) in order to withstand the drag imposed by wind. Additionally being tethered power to the airborne subsystems can be permanently fed from the ground minimizing the need to land.

PABe 1_main PABe 1_tablet PABe 1_phone_landscape PABe 1_phone
Platform in operation during the 2014 tests campaign
PABe 2_main PABe 2_tablet PABe 2_phone_landscape PABe 2_phone
Area covered by 2 systems placed at an altitude of 3km
PABe 3_main PABe 3_tablet PABe 3_phone_landscape PABe 3_phone
Diameter covered by 1 system placed at an altitude of 3km
PABe 4_main PABe 4_tablet PABe 4_phone_landscape PABe 4_phone
Performance of the High Altitude Platform Vs Blimp of equivalent volume
PABe 5_main PABe 5_tablet PABe 5_phone_landscape PABe 5_phone
Aerial view from platform @300m altitude