Research database


6 months (2021 - 2022)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Corporate-funded and donor-funded research
Funding body:
PRIVATI (LINKS Foundation)
Project identification number:
PoliTo role:
Sole Contractor


The mini ultralight smart balloon is a strategic new kind of expendable low cost, small (max 30 cm), light (about 20 g), environmental friendly (Mater-Bi.) radio probe embedding a microprocessor, IMU, GPS and sensors for the measurement inside clouds of velocity, acceleration, pressure, temperature, humidity and aerosol concentration fluctuations. To be released with the help of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), our probes are designed to passively float inside clouds and are about 20 and 100 times lighter than NCAR (National Centre for Atmospheric Research, US) drop-sondes (i.e. non-floating sondes) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US) smart balloons, respectively. Our radio-sonde is mini in size: thus, it can sense air - water vapor – water droplets –aerosols physical-chemical fluctuations down to a few centimeters for the wavelength and up to frequencies of a few hertz. It is green: the balloon is biodegradable (Mater Bi, Novamont). It is expendable: we foresee a final cost of the order of 40 euros. It is easily manageable: it can be positioned in-situ by drones and then released to freely float inside clouds or other atmospheric environments. Atmospheric radio-sondes currently in use are not able to passively float inside clouds. Those conceived for lapse rate sounding rise through the atmosphere while being convectively transported by the local wind shear, if present. The drop-sonde fall under gravity across the Planetary Boundary Layers. They are released by aircrafts and reach the Earth surface in a few minutes. NOAA LASB are large balloon (11-feet) sondes which are wind transported for a time lapse up to a few weeks and hundreds to thousand kilometres (for many degrees both in latitude and longitude). They are conceived to track large scale atmospheric Lagrangian motions inside the low Troposphere. The adjective smart refers to the capability to adjust the altitude but not to the biodegradability of the balloon material. NOAA smart balloon send data via a transponder to a C130 research aircraft flying in the vicinity of the balloon. They thus require aircraft support all along their flight trajectories.

People involved



ERC sectors

PE3_14 - Fluid dynamics (physics)
PE10_1 - Atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric composition, air pollution
PE10_14 - Earth observations from space/remote sensing
PE6_7 - Artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, multi agent systems
PE7_5 - (Micro and nano) electronic, optoelectronic and photonic components

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 13. Promuovere azioni, a tutti i livelli, per combattere il cambiamento climatico*|Obiettivo 14. Conservare e utilizzare in modo durevole gli oceani, i mari e le risorse marine per uno sviluppo sostenibile


Total cost: € 50,000.00
Total contribution: € 50,000.00
PoliTo total cost: € 50,000.00
PoliTo contribution: € 50,000.00