Sensors & Transducers Journal
(ISSN 1726- 5479)
Special Issue, October 2007, pp. 30-41
Global Environmental Micro Sensors Test Operations in the Natural Environment (GEMSTONE)
Mark ADAMS, John MANOBIANCO and Matthew BUZA
ENSCO, Inc 4849 North Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL, 32940, USA
Tel.: (321) 775-7568
Received: 7 September 2007 /Accepted: 19 September 2007 /Published: 8 October 2007
Abstract: ENSCO, Inc. is developing an innovative atmospheric observing system known as Global Environmental Micro Sensors (GEMS). The GEMS concept features an integrated system of miniaturized in situ, airborne probes measuring temperature, relative humidity, pressure, and vector wind velocity. In order for the probes to remain airborne for long periods of time, their design is based on a helium-filled super-pressure balloon. The GEMS probes are neutrally buoyant and carried passively by the wind at predetermined levels. Each probe contains on-board satellite communication, power generation, processing, and geolocation capabilities.
ENSCO has partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Weather Office for a project called GEMS Test Operations in the Natural Environment (GEMSTONE). The goal of the GEMSTONE project was to build and field-test a small system of prototype probes in the Earth’s atmosphere. This paper summarizes the 9-month GEMSTONE project (Sep 2006 – May 2007) including probe and system engineering as well as experiment design and data analysis from laboratory and field tests. These tests revealed issues with reliability, sensor accuracy, electronics miniaturization, and sub-system optimization. Nevertheless, the success of the third and final free flight test provides a solid foundation to move forward in follow on projects addressing these issues as highlighted in the technology roadmap for future GEMS development.
Keywords: Environmental sensors, Atmospheric profile, Buoyant probe
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