November 7 2009
UCSD, funded by California Space Grant, contacted four local
underrepresented high schools in the effort to spread STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering and Math). UCSD went to each school and gave a
near space primer presentation, leaving the floor open to suggestions to which
experiment the school would conduct. Each school was encouraged to come
up with its own near space experiment which was then planned, constructed, and
executed by the school with guidance from UCSD as was needed. All
experiments flew together on our UCSD weather balloon in separate payload
No near space launch is complete without photos, and El Cajon decided to
focus their experiment around imaging. To answer their question,
"How does photo clarity change with altitude?", we worked together to
create a payload box full of various cameras. The Canon a590s from the
previous year's launch were taken out again and reprogrammed
to automatically take photos at given intervals. One was
positioned vertically pointing down, the other horizontally pointing out
towards the horizon. We reprogrammed the more expensive Canon SX200 as
well, and it too was pointed out horizontally. Finally, a small HD video
camera was added to the mix, it too was set horizontally.
The students at Lincoln decided to see what sort of effects near space radiation would have on plants. Three sets of common nursery plants were selected, two of each were sent on the ride of a lifetime while two more stayed below to act as a control group. In addition, plant seeds were sent and later compared to control seeds. All plants were protected from the vacuum and cold. Temperature, humidity, and radiation were monitored using an on board Java SunSPOT. Interestingly, seeds flown in a later mission did grow faster than those kept on the ground.
Preuss High School:
Preuss came up with an ingenious experiment to test how well sound travels in the low pressure of near space. By putting together a Lego NXT with an ultrasound speaker and microphone, the NXT would emit a sound and measure the time it took to hear it. As part of flight preparation, the NXT setup was tested at UCSD in a pressure chamber and was subjected to vaccum and extremely cold temperatures.
Crickets seem to thrive in most
places across the world, but can they withstand the harsh environment that is
near space? Helix Charter was determined to find out which, if any,
factors of near space were survivable by these hardly insects. Crickets were
packaged into plastic bottles, and different bottles were subjected to a
different mix of near space conditions. Kapton tape was used to protect
certain bottles from radiation, those inside the payload box were kept warm
with thermal pads, and some bottles were punctured to allow for vacuum.
In addition, a Sony voice recorder was sent up as well, to see if one really
can tell the temperature based on the intervals of a cricket's chirp.
This box did make it back, but insofar the experimental results were inconclusive.
In an attempt to catch the explosion of the weather balloon, a Sony HD video camera was mounted vertically pointed upwards in its own payload box, poised to get those few precious frames of bursting latex. In addition, we wanted to see just how violent the winds get up there.