Funded by the California Space Grant and led by UC San Diego professor John Kosmatka, the Near-Space Balloon Team at UC San Diego is planning to fly a helium-filled, zero-pressure balloon across the United States, propelled only by the capricious winds of the jet stream. If successful, this would be the first time a U.S. university would have completed this mission.
The team composed of six undergraduates and one graduate student are conducting the launch as part of a program meant to prepare engineering students for the workforce through hands-on projects and teach them the basic principles in science and engineering.
The balloon is about 26 feet long and can be filled with 291 cubic feet of helium. Attached to the balloon is a 5-pound payload box which includes several tracking systems, environmental and atmospheric sensors, a camera and a particle collector designed by using VCR parts and tape. The team will use a UC San Diego scanning electron microscope to analyze the particles collected during the flight and analyze their make-up.
The flight is scheduled to take place in the next few months from UC San Diego’s campus.
For more information and pictures and click here.
Click here to view an article published by “Sign On San Diego” on the balloon launch.