The crew capsule is mounted inside a three-axis gymbal, and the heavy mechanical systems and batteries are mounted below the center of gravity, causing it to float upright in any orientation. The gymbal system is equipped with two low-speed high-torque electric motors, intended for repositioning the on-site or for short-distance travel. During wind-powered travel, the motors are used for steering control, allowing the Drifter to “tack” away from the wind.
Strategies for Living
Because of the extremes of daylight above the Arctic Circle, the problem for the crew is most often either too much light, making sleep difficult, or too little, causing depression and health problems. Full-spectrum LED fixtures in the crew capsule regulate the crew's biological clocks, while the panoramic projections inside the crew capsule provides an experience of being outside even in the worst conditions. Power is supplied by batteries in the bottom of the crew capsule. The batteries are recharged by the generators mounted in the gymbal rings while the Arctic Drifter is travelling with the wind. The battery cells provide power for the electronic, environmental and lighting systems as well as the electric motors and pumps for the air-bags. Though the Arctic Drifter is equipped with a self-contained composting toilet, it does not include a greywater treatment system, as the typical cycle for a non-chemical greywater processor is much longer than the maximum specified operating cycle. We envision instead that the Drifter would be part of a larger base-camp system, discharging cached greywater to central treatment facilities at the end of a mission cycle. In milder conditions where the Drifter is able to remain partly inflated, several units could be clustered together to share facilities for longer-term operation. As winds pick up, the cluster would move together towards a new base camp location.