High altitude balloon
The name is actually quite accurate. It is a balloon, filled usually with helium or hydrogen that ascends into an area called “near space” or stratosphere. Stratosphere is a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that extends from 11km up to 50km above ground all around the planet. In this altitude the maximum temperature is around -45°C and the minimum around -75°C. The balloon reaches altitude of around 30km then bursts and the payload falls back to the ground, usually far from the place of launch. It has a parachute preventing its destruction and it is possible to track the fallen payload by GPS.
Common high altitude balloons, including ours, are able to fly as high as 30km. For comparison, planes fly in altitudes from 9 km to 13 km. Around 18km altitude is where “near space” begins and it offers plenty amazing views. Watch our video and see for yourself!
Our first high altitude balloon
We launched our first high altitude balloon in autumn of the year 2017. The contestants were working on it throughout semi-finals. The whole BalloonSat was designed and constructed by them, using Arduino board and many sensors for the insides and plastic and polystyrene for the case itself. During flight we measured various data like atmospheric pressure, temperature of the air around the balloon, acceleration and others. The BalloonSat also carried Geiger-Müller tube, thanks to which was possible to measure the level of ionizing radiation in different altitudes. One of the experiments was also a test of silicon solar panels, in particular their efficiency in dependency to lowering temperature. Last but not least were biological experiments in which we measured the reaction of microorganisms to their surroundings.
Again and better!
In the year 2018 we are launching a high altitude balloon with the experiments of Expedice Mars’ participants again. Those who sign in will be working on it during semifinals and finals and their experiments will visit near space!
High altitude balloons offer a great opportunity for education of nature sciences and technical subjects. Participants can design an experiment that will ascend high above the clouds in Expedition’s BalloonSat. The goal is to enable them to try the whole process of science research, first the primary thought, then a concrete design and in the end the finished product and final evaluation.
Expedition Mars will be launching their own high altitude balloon for the second time this year. This balloon and the attached BalloonSat will reach the altitude of approximately 30km and carry up many experiments designed by the participants themselves. Then it will burst and fall back to the Earth. In this BalloonSat a memory card with messages will be placed, one of which can be yours!
You can write whatever you’d like, if it fits into the word limit. It will be sent into the near space with your name. I swear to you that you haven’t flown this high up yet!