NASA has introduced WHAATRR: the Weather Hazard Alert and Awareness Technology Radiation Radiosonde Glider. With this, the space agency says, weather data could be cheaply (relatively speaking) and quickly acquired for organizations that include the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The glider could, potentially, save the National Weather Service $15 million in costs every year.
The Glider, which is yet to be built, will feature technology that may enable it to function as an airborne science platform, among many other potential uses. WHAATRR was presented by NASA Armstrong staff and students, who based the design on the Mars-bound Prandtl-M aircraft. The design won a NASA Innovation Kick Start grant.
It seems the final glider design isn’t yet in place, however, it is expected to have a 3ft wingspan and to be made from double-ply carbon fiber. Once a glider is constructed, it will be tested via a launch at 20,000ft from a weather balloon. A landing destination will be selected ahead of time, and flight control software will be used to guide the path.
That’s just the start of the testing, though, with the final test being a massive 100,000ft altitude launch with remote piloting to a final destination. When the space agency anticipates the Glider design being completed and the first tests started is unclear at this time.