Blue Dot’s The Weather Balloon project grew out of the team’s desire to begin building a more robust space science program. The astronomy project was the starting point, but everyone realized the work could go in so many directions if were to to truly be a NASA-like educational program.
As of Oct 2017, the team at Blue Dot Education has had one failed launch attempt, sent fourteen HABs to the stratosphere, and successfully recovering twelve of the packages. The next launch is already planned. Several experiments have been put on the packages including an attempt to measure sound intensity and an attempt to measure altitude. A live sourdough bread yeast was also put on one of the packages and successfully re-animated after landing. Finally, we have successfully built two data loggers capable of giving us flight and environmental information on the package.
The goal of the weather balloon research is twofold. First, Blue Dot will use this project as a means of teaching many fundamental science concepts from the fields of physics, chemistry, geology, and biology as well as concepts from engineering and mathematics in an integrated, project based manner. Second, Blue Dot will use the balloons as a way to do research in atmospheric and planetary science.
Some of the proposed projects include but are not limited to the following:
- Measuring radiation in the upper atmosphere as a means of studying the magnetosphere
- Attempting to reach the highest possible altitudes with the balloons
- Attempting to keep the balloons up for long periods of time and tracking their movement
- Completing experiments with microbial life in the upper atmosphere
- Measuring atmospheric conditions from the ground to the flight apex
- Developing a communications system with the balloon in order to send data and images in real time back to a ground station, establishing telemetry for a possible cubesat
- Developing a means of doing astronomical imaging and data collection from the balloons in the upper atmosphere
- Developing a platform from which a Rockoon could be launched
Students who do a HAB project with us will start by sending up a balloon with a previously used package and data logger in order to understand the entire system. After that initial launch students can continue work by re-developing the HAB package and/or designing experiments to be done in the near space conditions of the stratosphere.
Along the way students will learn about pressure, density, states of matter, atmospheric sciences, gravity, earth sciences, and buoyancy.
Check back for updates from student work in our HAB program