The Aerosonde is a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to fly over oceans in order to collect weather data, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind measurements. The Aerosonde is powered by a modified Enya R120 model aircraft engine, and carries onboard a small computer, meteorological instruments, and a GPS receiver for navigation.
On August 21, 1998, a Phase 1 Aerosonde nicknamed "Laima", after the ancient Latvian deity of good fortune, completed a 2,031 mile (3,270 km) flight across the Atlantic Ocean. This was the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a UAV and the Aerosonde is smallest aircraft to cross, as well. Launched from a roof rack of a moving car due to its lack of undercarriage, Laima flew from Newfoundland, Canada to an island off the coast of Scotland in 26 hours 45 minutes in stormy weather, using approximately 1.5 U.S. gallons (1.25 imperial gallons or 5.7 litres) of gasoline. Other than for take-off and landing, the flight was autonomous, without external control, at an altitude of 5,500 ft (1,680 meters). The Aerosonade was the first unmanned aircraft to launch itself into a hurricane in August 2005.
- Crew: None
- Length: 5 ft 8 in (1.7 m)
- Wingspan: 9 ft 8 in (2.9 m)
- Height: 2 ft 0 in (0.60 m)
- Wing area: 6.1 ft² (0.57 m²)
- Empty: lb (kg)
- Loaded: 28.9 lb (13.1 kg)
- Maximum take-off: lb ( kg)
- Powerplant: Modified Enya R120 model aircraft engine, 1.74 hp (1280 W)
- Maximum speed: 120 mph (193 km/h)
- Range: 1,875 miles (3,000 km)
- Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,500 m)
- Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
- Wing loading: 5 lb/ft² (23 kg/m²)
- Power/Mass: 0.06 hp/lb (98 W/kg)
- NASA Wallops Flight Facility press release: "Aerosonde UAV Completes First Operational Flights at NASA Wallops"
- Aerosonde Pty Ltd. press release: "First UAV across the Atlantic"
- University of Washington, Aeronautics and Astronautics Program, College of Engineering: (Aerosonde project web page)
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* Wing span: 2.9 m (9.5 ft) * Weight:15 kg (32.2 lb) * Engine: 24 cc fuel injected * Payload(s): Up to 5.3 kg (11.5 lb) * Fuel capacity: Up to 6 liters (1.6 gal) * Operation: Autonomous * Generator: 75W * Navigation: GPS
* Cruise airspeed:75-110 kph (40-60 kts) * Endurance: 5 - 30 hr(subject to payload) * Range: 0 km (50 kts) * Streaming video * Global iridium satellite * Service ceiling: 4500 m (15,000 ft)