Thermal Glider flying
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Offering long range and endurance using environmental energy via a thermal engine, the thermal glider can be deployed at a maximal depth of 1200 meters for a period of 5 years. It has a 40,000-km range.
- Weight: 60 Kg
- Hull Diameter: 21.3 cm
- Vehicle Length: 1.5 meters
- Depth Range: 1200 meters
- Speed: 0.4 m/sec horizontal average
- Energy: Environmental (thermal engine)
- Projected Endurance: 3-5 years
- Projected Range: 40,000 km
- Navigation: GPS, magnetic compass, altimeter, subsurface dead reckoning
- Sensor Package: Conductivity, Temperature, Depth
- Communications: RF modem, Iridium satellite, ARGOS
The Slocum Thermal Glider is comprised of one main hull section, a solid machined nose dome, a wet section located aft in addition to two thermal tubes located below the hull. The cylindrical hull section is 21 cm OD 6061 T6 aluminum alloy chosen for simplicity, economy, and expandability. The nose end cap is a machined pressure resistant elliptical shape, and the tail cap a truncated cone to allow for penetrator surface. Composite wings are swept at 45 degrees and are easily replaced.
The nose cone is a machined housing that is ported for the CTD sensor assembly. Although not of substantial volume, trim weights can be added inside the nose dome for ballast trimming.
Main Hull Section
This section houses the strong back chassis that ties the Glider together. On the bottom of the strong back chassis are the ARGOS PTT and Air Pump System. In addition, the Pitch and Roll Vernier Mechanism, Fore Air Bladder, Fore Oil Bladder, Mid Oil Bladder, solenoid, accumulator, thermal charge pump and batteries are distributed throughout the hull section. The battery is located in the forward section of the vehicle and the internal wiring connector is located on the lower side of the strong back. The large battery pack also serves as the mass moved by the pitch and roll control. An upper electronics chassis holds the Vehicle Controller, Hardware Interface Board, and the Attitude Sensor. GPS, Iridium, and RF modem engines are located on the lower electronics chassis tray.
Aft Tail Cone
A faired wet area that houses the External Air Bladder, External Oil Bladder, Burn Wire, Jettison Weight, Power Umbilical, and has provisions for external trim weight and wet sensors. Protruding from the aft end cap through the Tail Cone is the Antenna Fin Support. This boom is a pressure proof conduit for the antenna leads and a low noise amplifier for GPS. Socketed into the support is the Antenna Fin.
In all operations, particularly coastal work, there is a risk of entraining weed or debris on the wings or tail causing major degradation in gliding performance and for littoral gliders a sweep angle of 45 degrees or more is recommended. Horizontal tail planes are not required, pitch stability is provided by the wings which are mounted aft of the center of buoyancy. In the low Reynolds number regime in which the glider operates (approximately 30,000) their un-cambered ("razor blade") wings are very suitable.