The Perlan II stratospheric glider has departed the United States aboard a container ship on the first leg of a journey that will end in El Calafate, Argentina, where it will begin high-altitude aerospace and climate research, the company said.
The journey marks a transition from a six-month flight test program in Minden, Nevada, to mission flights in Argentina´s Patagonia region, where wind conditions will allow the team to look for stratospheric mountain waves in Patagonia, to collect new data about the upper atmosphere.
The Perlan 2 glider is a pressurized sailplane designed to ride updrafts, called mountain waves, which in certain regions near the North and South poles, can reach into the stratosphere. For a brief period in August and September every year, the weather in the Andes Mountains near El Calafate is suitable to generate these stratospheric mountain waves.
The pressurized glider built for Airbus Perlan Mission II soared at 26,000 feet during a recent test flight in Minden, NV, prior to departure to Argentina for flights into the stratosphere. Lacking an engine that would contaminate air samples, the Perlan II glider is able to collect data on upper-level weather patterns and the condition of the atmosphere, yielding new insights into climate change. The aircraft will carry experiments from earth from scientists around the globe, as well as from school and university classrooms. Its flights in the upper atmosphere will also provide Airbus data on high-altitude flight.
Airbus Group is an aeronautics, space and related services company, comprised of Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus helicopters that have revenues of EUR 64.5 billion and employ a workforce of 136,600.