92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Monday, 23 January 2012: 5:00 PM
The Perlan Project Phase II: Soaring Stratospheric Mountain Waves in Argentina to 90,000 Feet
Room 356 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Elizabeth J. Austin, WeatherExtreme Ltd., Fallbrook, CA

The Perlan Project is a two-phase international scientific exploration of stratospheric mountain waves. It will make basic contributions to two fields; meteorology and flight dynamics. Phase one of the project was achieved on August 30, 2006, when pilots Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson set the world altitude record for gliders of 50,671 feet (15,447 meters) using stratospheric mountain waves. Phase one utilized a modified certified production glider. Phase two requires the production of a specialized glider.

The phase two glider is currently being built and test flights are planned beginning in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California and Nevada in late Spring/early Summer of 2012. This two-seat sailplane is a one-of-a-kind, carbon fiber, pressurized sailplane that will utilize the polar night jet associated with the polar vortex to achieve an altitude of 90,000 feet (27.4 kilometers). The phase two glider has a wing span of 84 feet and will weigh 1,800 pounds loaded with two pilots and equipment. The windows are polycarbonate and do not get brittle at low temperatures. A special drogue chute is being designed that will not degrade rapidly with high levels of ozone exposure. The glider will have a Global Positioning System, video cameras (looking inside the cockpit and outside), high-capacity batteries, extended range altimeters, window heaters, yaw dampers, auto pilot, boot heaters, ballistic recovery system and a telemetry system for ground-based real-time tracking. Some of the atmospheric instrumentation planned on the aircraft will measure: Ozone, aerosols, turbulence, water vapor, air and dew point temperature, winds (horizontal and vertical) ultra-violet, pressure and ice crystals.

The meteorological research and modeling that went into phase one is being implemented for phase two in terms of the design, instrumentation, and location of the record flights. Results from the world record flight along with the current progress of the aircraft design and atmospheric instrumentation will be presented.

Supplementary URL: http://www.perlanproject.org