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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Design of a Rocketsonde Buoy System for collecting weather sounding data Readyhough, Catherine Ene


A Rocketsonde-Buoy System is presented as a possible solution to the problem of gathering atmospheric data over large bodies of water, such as oceans. This system consists of a series of deep-ocean buoys at fixed locations, each containing a battery of weather instrumentation rockets, called rocketsondes. Each buoy will autonomously fire a rocketsonde daily that will parachute down while transmitting local atmospheric data. The goal of the research is to prove that this system is technologically feasible. The main focus is to design an appropriate rocket and guarantee that it will launch vertically even during severe winter storm conditions. Simulations and experimental tests indicate that it is feasible to design an appropriate rocket for this system. The rocket will use a fast-burning, K class solid propellant motor to reach the desired 6km altitude and cut through the wind conditions. The dual diameter body will be made from aluminum, which is degradable in sea water, and will have 6 fixed fins. This rocket can be stored and launched from a 4" diameter tube, which improves the ability for the system to be easily weatherproofed. However, due to weight issues, the system will only be able to hold 200 of these rockets, rather than the desired 400. A prototype launch control system was also developed, implementing a 3-axis orientation sensor to track buoy motion. Tests demonstrated that the system is capable of launching the prototype rocket near-vertical in rocking conditions equivalent to the worst likely to be faced by the Rocketsonde Buoy System. The launch control system also identifies launch opportunities in wave troughs, where there is less wind to affect the rocket's initial flight. An optimization program is also implemented to change the maximum acceptable launch angle based on current wave conditions.

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