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  • Near Space Wind Modeling Applications
  • Near Space Wind Statistical Analysis
  • Experimental Wind Observations

Near Space and High Altitude Operations is a burgeoning area of applied research.  The hope is that in the future massive airships with communication and surveillance payloads can be placed at altitudes above 60,0000 ft for up to a year to aid in telecommunications, homeland security, and strategic military operations abroad.  However, there are many technical challenges that must be overcome, and the area of research that we have lent our expertise to includes characterizing and modeling the weather at operational altitudes of interest.

Computers running under the LINUX and Windows platform have been developed to run near space wind models.  The models are in the process of being improved and validated. Some sample results are shown below.  The hope is to have a software tool for Near Space platform designers.

Simulation of Winds at White Sands, NM of January 10th, 2004
for 60,000 ft for 24 hrs


Profiles above White Sands Missile Range for 24 hours from the above model.


An analysis of observational wind above 60,000 ft was investigated for the purpose of near-space applications. The observations were fit with Weibull distributions and a statistical model formed for two North American sites corresponding to White Sands, NM, and Akron, OH. In a collaborative effort these wind models were used to determine the energy requirements of a station-keeping notional airship operating above 60,000 ft using solar panels for energy.

Statistical distributions of all upper level wind observations for year 2004, at 65,000 to 72,000 ft above White Sands, NM.
Mean wind speed upper level wind observations for several years  at 65,000 to 72,000 ft establishing a climatology.
Monthly upper level wind observations distribution for a single month at 65,000 to 72,000 ft showing the possible flat nature of the distribution requiring multiple wind speeds that may be encountered.

As a professor at UCCS Dr. Roney supervised, advised, and guided undergraduate engineering students who built numerous payloads that take specialized high altitude observations while attached to a weather balloon.  The measurements highlighted here are of wind speed, temperature, and the gust nature of the winds.  These types of measurements will all be important to Near Space and High Altitude Operations.

Weather Balloon with Payloads
WindSat Payload
Comparison of the above system to the standard weather sound showing the detail possible in the gusts
Gusts measured every 1 to 2 seconds
Temperature Profiles

Refereed Papers

J.A. Roney, “Statistical wind analysis for near-space applications”, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 69, 1485-1501, 2007.

J.A. Roney and R.L. Mourning, Jr., “Balloon-borne planetary atmospheric sounder tested in the terrestrial environment”, Acta Astronautica 60, 96 – 110, 2007.

D.K. Schmidt, J. Stevens, and J. Roney, “Near-Space Station-Keeping Performance Of A Large High-Altitude Notional Airship”, Journal of Aircraft, 44, No. 2, March–April, 2007. Non-Refereed

Papers and Technical Reports

D. Schmidt, J. Stevens, J. Roney, Near Space Vehicle Platform Analysis Space,  Near Space (SANS) Research Group Report, for Air Force Space Command/Army Space Battle Lab, July, 2007.

D.K. Schmidt, J. Steven, and J. Roney, “Near-Space Station-Keeping Performance Of A Large High-Altitude Notional Airship”, Paper Accepted for AIAA Atmospheric Flight mechanics Conference August 21 – 24, 2006.

D. Schmidt, J. Stevens, J. Roney, J. Albertson, S. Tragesser, "Station-Keeping Performance Analysis of a Notional Airship for Near-Space Application," Space and Near Space (SANS) Research Group, For US Army Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab, October, 2005.

Presentations and Seminars

J. Roney
, “New Results in High-Altitude Wind Modeling", Symposium on Near Space and High-Altitude Operations , February 23rd, 2007 .

J. Roney, "Wind Analysis for Near Space," CITTI-UCCS Near Space Symposium, Presented February 2nd, 2006.

J. Perkins, and J. Roney, "Prototype High Altitude Balloon Payload for Measuring Wind Gusts in Near Space," CITTI-UCCS Near Space Symposium, February 3rd, 2006.

J. Roney, “Unique Undergraduate Engineering Experiences in the Design of Scientific Payloads for High Altitude Weather Balloons”, Presented at the 2006 ASEE/RMS Conference, United State Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, April 8th, 2006.