A CAD diagram of the payload
Southampton University is investigating how fleets of light, unmanned aircraft can make extensive studies more affordable, even when payloads need to be delivered to extreme altitudes. It also enables applications where the deployment of manned aircraft is impractical, such as when observations need to be made in highly polluted environments (eg, volcanic ash clouds) or extreme weather conditions.
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Southampton University has successfully recovered instrumentation launched into the stratosphere using a high altitude balloon. An HTC smartphone running a Windows Phone 7 app was used to monitor and update tracking information for the balloon via the Microsoft Azure cloud as it ascended to over 60,000 feet. The
paves the way to using relatively low cost helium balloons as launch vehicles for instruments that are able to take measurements and samples from the upper atmosphere.