Mathematical model and simulation of free balloon liftoff in the presence of surface winds
A mathematical model of free balloon launches in windy conditions is based on the conservation of the linear momentum in horizontal and vertical axes. Linear momentum conservation equations are represented by a set of four nonlinear first-order ODEs. Some ODEs were solved analytically, while the nonlinear Riccati ODE with variable coefficients for the vertical acceleration was solved using numerical ODE solvers. Transient aerodynamic lift and horizontal drag are caused by the slip flow over the balloon envelope. It takes free balloon ten half times to reach 90.9% of the wind velocity in a step function response. A launch condition was developed in terms of the minimum required envelope temperature for which the net aerostatic lift overcomes inert weight of a balloon. Perturbation analysis was used to explore changes in the net aerostatic lift. Simulations were performed to cases with and without envelope distortion and enhanced cooling due to forced convection. Since all balloon takeoffs are performed downwind, obstacle clearance becomes an issue due to rapid loss of aerodynamic lift. Balloons may stop climbing and even start descending shortly after liftoff despite intense heating representing real hazard.
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