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Understanding tether dynamics through kite flying

For Hilary Costello‘s ongoing Ph.D. research, she can be found inside at a computer, coding and writing equations, and outside flying kites in the wide open spaces of Cambridge University. Her goal: “design an aerodynamic, stable tether that will reduce tension and, ultimately, lessen the risk of large-scale failure.”

Understanding tether dynamics is extremely complex with numerous factors effecting the behaviour of a cable – from the shape and aerodynamics of the tether to the elasticity, bending and torsion of the materials used, not to mention the changing wind speed and temperature at heights of up to 20km.

Testing the cable dynamics of new tether designs in the real-world is a crucial part of the research process and by modeling and testing cables in isolated sections, it is possible to better understand and model how these may operate together in a larger system.

From Storycog and The Royal Institution, take a look at tether dynamics and 20km High Kite Flying.

Videos in the archives: windless kite flying, more engineering, more women in STEM, and more wind.

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