Answers Blowing in the Wind

Brendan O'Shaughnessy '93 | Winter 2013-14 | Notre Dame Magazine

Joe Fernando research balloonPhoto by Barbara Johnston for Notre Dame Magazine

Notre Dame’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle — its body stuffed with delicate meteorological instruments — sits on a desolate strip of asphalt at Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground, revving up for its first mission.

Besides a single massive mountain, the 800,000-acre military base in the Great Salt Lake Desert is dotted with sagebrush, foot-high anthills and not much else, save the occasional scorpion. It’s the kind of isolated place where Special Forces practice storming fake compounds that look like Osama bin Laden’s, and Air Force planes drop real bombs that leave impressive holes.

Over the last year, a team of engineers, scientists and graduate students from around the world had built the $250,000 nest of machinery inside the plane fuselage, and they are ecstatic over this flight. The instruments on the remote-controlled plane with a 14-foot wingspan should provide data on wind speed, turbulence, temperature and more in this groundbreaking attempt to understand how air flows through the mountains.

Read more at Notre Dame Magazine

 by Daily Domer Staff

Posted In: Features