High Altitude Remote Probe (HARP)
Winged aircraft and most lighter-than-air airships, or tethered aerostats are limited to the lower altitude with denser atmosphere, thereby limiting their horizon coverage. Further, they require substantial support and are not generally on station for long periods (days or months) due to crew limits, weather vulnerability, and/or equipment reliability. Satellites are expensive to deploy and, although their horizon coverage is great, their distance to the objects of surveillance to communications relay interest combined with on-board power constraints limit resolution, detect ability, and communications bandwidth.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has invented a novel High Altitude Remote Probe (HARP); a station-keeping stratospheric vehicle, that is initially stored as a missile payload in a compact format. At altitude, the probe is deployed in the stratosphere from a missile into its final aerodynamic configuration. The novelty in this approach is the combination of deployability at high altitude, buoyancy, aerodynamic form, solar hydrogen based power, and small size heretofore unused in the atmosphere. Further enhancements include interleaving solar power with energy storage using batteries or fuel cells, and very long duration missions-on the order of weeks or months.
Patent Status: U.S. patent(s) 7073749 issued.
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