Gun­ston Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Club en­joy space bal­loon suc­cess

Record Observer - - SCHOOLS -

CEN­TRE­VILLE — On Nov. 18, the Gun­ston Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Club launched and re­trieved a near space bal­loon.

This high al­ti­tude bal­loon, dubbed “Heron 4” as it is the fourth in a se­ries of bal­loon mis­sions launched by Gun­ston stu­dents, reached an al­ti­tude of 18.5 miles above the Earth’s sur­face. At that point, the bal­loon burst as planned and the in­stru­ment pack­age was de­liv­ered safely to Earth via para­chute.

The in­stru­ment pack­age con­tained track­ing equip­ment, which re­ported the bal­loon’s po­si­tion ev­ery 60 sec­onds to the track­ing team at Gun­ston, and to a chase and re­trieval team that was fol­low­ing “Heron 4” from be­low.

The goal of the mis­sion was to pho­to­graph the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay area from an al­ti­tude “near space”, above 95 per­cent of the Earth’s at­mos­phere. At these al­ti­tudes, the sky be­comes black, as there are few mol­e­cules to scat­ter the sun’s rays.

The in­stru­ment pack­age re­turned to earth after its 2 hour jour­ney at Hooper’s Land­ing, a golf course in Seaford, Del. The pack­age landed in a small pond.

Dr. Ken Wil­son and Dr. Mariah Goodall men­tor the Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Club and Ali­son Vooris lead the chase and re­trieval team. Fresh­man Owen White pre­pared the pay­load. Twenty-four stu­dents are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the club this year, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Ryan Red­ding, class of ‘17, Vice Pres­i­dent Alli Webb, class of ‘18, and Sec­re­tary Gar­rett Ru­dolfs, class of ‘18. Dale Weg­ner, fa­ther of Gun­ston alum Jay Weg­ner, also pro­vided as­sis­tance for this launch.

The goals of pre­vi­ous mis­sions were:

• “Heron 1” mis­sion: high al­ti­tude pho­tog­ra­phy

• “Heron 2” mis­sion: mea­sure­ment of pres­sure and tem­per­a­ture changes at the bound­ary of the ozone layer.

• “Heron 3” mis­sion: mea­sure­ment of cos­mic ray ra­di­a­tion above the Earth’s at­mos­phere.

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