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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 01/13/2023
AbstractSolar Balloons are a simple and lightweight option for aerial exploration and meteorological data collection both terrestrially and on other planets. By using a lightweight material that absorbs visual light and emits low levels of thermal radiation, solar balloons behave similarly to hot air balloons, but are capable of ascending to much higher altitudes. Unlike hot air balloons, which use a heat source to raise the temperature of the internal air, solar balloons generate heat by absorbing solar radiation, providing a free source of lift and eliminating the need for carrying an extra tank of lighter than air gas or fuel. A solar balloon CubeSat system design for Mars is proposed for exploring the hard to reach places and rugged terrain of Mars. The system design includes a concept of operations as well as discussion of the major subsystems such as power, telecommunications, inflation, sensing, etc. Additionally, because Venus has a similar climate to Earth, a miniature solar balloon platform featuring a Femtosat gondola is also proposed for collecting meteorological data of the Venetian cloud layer. EarthSHAB is an open source software platform for predicting the flight paths of solar balloon on Earth. Using heat transfer modeling and dynamic analysis, an altitude profile for solar balloons is achieved. By incorporating weather forecasts from NOAA, complete flight trajectories are predicted. This model is then updated to predict solar balloon performance on Mars. an initial feasibility study for solar balloons on Venus is also discussed. Several different designs of solar balloon were constructed and flown to help better understand their performance and improve the model. Two of these solar balloons also included a vent which demonstrated altitude control of a solar balloon, which opens up the possibility of autonomous control.
Degree ProgramGraduate College