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new atmospheric probe design

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Old   May 12, 2012, 15:04
Default new atmospheric probe design
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John Manobianco
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I need to optimize the shape, form factor, component geometry, mass balance, and other attributes of a new atmospheric probe that will sample meteorological paramaters while drifting passively through the air (i.e. no propulsion or lighter than air gas to provide lift). This design exercise is part of upcoming project sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

The probe will integrate micro and nanotechnology-based components to minimize mass and terminal velocity so it remains airborne for the longest possible time. Possible shapes include bioinspired designs (maple or dandelion seeds). Probe dimensions will be on the order of millimeters to centimeters with overall mass less than one gram (tens to 100 milligrams preferred).

Previous work on this concept used simple force balance equations (vertical component only) in a Lagrangian particle model with non steady-state atmospheric fluid flows to estimate probe trajectories and terminal velocity.

We want to determine if more sophisticated CFD software is needed for the optimization and if so, what package(s) would be most suitable, cost-effective, and easy to use.

Any recommendations, suggestions, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

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