Project SkyFall’s design purpose is to stream realtime live data from inside Tornadoes and Supercells.  In addition to Tornadoes, we can also deploy the probe for hurricanes, weather soundings, chinooks and other types of extreme weather.   SkyFall has been designed to be launched by rocket from Dominator 3, by balloon or air cannon.  This is one of our keystone projects.

SkyFall deployment into Lawrence/Linwood EF4 tornado

SkyFall streams realtime data  once per second (1Hz) for over 70 miles to altitudes in excess of 70,000 ft which includes GPS position, temperature, relative humidity, pressure, wind speed/direction and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU).  It has been designed to fly within tornadoes and hurricanes, and has survived the EF4 Lawrence/Linwood tornado with no visible damage whilst reaching speeds of up to 188mph.

3D SkyFall Render

Recovery of a SkyFall deployment is not required as data is transmitted to a ground station in realtime, however we still attempt to recover each project as we store even higher frequency 10Hz on the probe itself.  On average, we recover around 80% of the probes (even in Tornadoes), due to the GPS tracking on board.  Probes that we are enable to recover typically are due to poor terrain or private land we’re unable to arrange access to.

Sounding from the Skyfall probe deployed into the Lawrence/Linwood EF4 tornado

The SkyFall probes are designed to ultra lightweight and are powered by 1 x AAA battery, and we can launch multiple probes concurrently.  The probes are so lightweight that they can be launched by model rocket, party balloon or pilot balloon thus conserving rocket fuel and helium.  In addition, the lightweight design allows us to launch by “pico” balloon in the significant wind speeds found around storms, which are not possible with regular weather balloons.

Data from a SkyFall balloon launch

We run custom software that we can use with an iPad to track the probe in realtime and often can pinpoint the probe descent to the precision where we see if fall out of the sky in front of us.

Custom tracking software we run on our ground station for realtime tracking of SkyFall

SkyFall has launched into a tornado and a number of tornado warned storms whilst sampling rotation, updrafts, mesocyclones, hail, downdrafts, mammatus, chinooks, arctic temperatures and the stratosphere and routinely flies above the height of commercial jetliners.  This project alone has provided enough data for years of analysis and future research papers.

Successful recovery of SkyFall in a sub-zero Canadian high wind test after reaching > 40K ft

Checkout our Preprint (OpenAccess) paper currently in peer review:

Design and Rocket Deployment of a Trackable Near-Lagrangian Drifter based Meteorological Probe into the Lawrence/Linwood EF4 Tornado and Mesocyclone on 28 May 2019