Airships: A New Horizon for Science?
First of all, perspective: How big are they?
As the picture below indicates, as big as an aircraft carrier!
Yesterday, Technology Review's article, "How Airships Are Set To Revolutionize Science"
, began with "Airships can patrol the upper atmosphere, monitoring the ground or peering at the stars for a fraction of a cost of satellites, according to a new report. All that’s needed is a prize to kick-start innovation." http://goo.gl/xVmRdX
For more detailed info, the recent paper entitled Airships: A New Horizon for Science
can be downloaded here >>http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.6706
The abstract opens the door a little more:
The "Airships: A New Horizon for Science" study at the Keck Institute for Space Studies investigated the potential of a variety of airships currently operable or under development to serve as observatories and science instrumentation platforms for a range of space, atmospheric, and Earth science. The participants represent a diverse cross-section of the aerospace sector, NASA, and academia. Over the last two decades, there has been wide interest in developing a high altitude, stratospheric lighter-than-air (LTA) airship that could maneuver and remain in a desired geographic position (i.e., "station-keeping") for weeks, months or even years. Our study found considerable scientific value in both low altitude (< 40 kft) and high altitude (> 60 kft) airships across a wide spectrum of space, atmospheric, and Earth science programs. Over the course of the study period, we identified stratospheric tethered aerostats as a viable alternative to airships where station-keeping was valued over maneuverability. By opening up the sky and Earth's stratospheric horizon in affordable ways with long-term flexibility, airships allow us to push technology and science forward in a project-rich environment that complements existing space observatories as well as aircraft and high-altitude balloon missions.Plenty of lower budget science to be done!
Color illustration: Mike Hughes (Eagre Interactive) / Keck Institute for Space Studies
Caption: Illustration of an airship observatory concept, including a world-class telescope mounted on the top of the airship and a suite of Earth and atmospheric instruments mounted on the bottom.
Inset illustration: US CBO, from Recent Development Efforts for Military Airships http://goo.gl/f9PYu2
Note: ISR = intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; ISIS = Integrated Sensor Is the Structure; HALE-D = High-Altitude Long-Endurance Demonstrator; LEMV = Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle. #science #airships #space #experiment #scienceeveryday #stem