A team of students and faculty from the Arizona Space Grant Consortium at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Arizona State University will launch a high-altitude balloon on Aug. 21 as part of a nationwide, NASA-sponsored project to live-stream aerial video footage of the “Great American Eclipse.”
The team will launch the roughly 8-foot-tall, helium-filled balloon, which will carry a video camera and other equipment to an altitude of up to 100,000 feet, at approximately 9:45 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) nearby the Glendo (Wyoming) State Park. Live footage from the camera will be available for public viewing on NASA’s website, http://nasa.gov.
As part of the Eclipse Ballooning Project, 55 teams from across the country will live-stream footage of the total solar eclipse, in which the moon will entirely block the sun for approximately two minutes on a path progressing from the Pacific coast in Oregon to the Atlantic coast in South Carolina.
The NASA-sponsored project, which is led by the Montana Space Grant Consortium at Montana State University, has been years in the making. According to MSGC Director Angela Des Jardins, the project marks the first time that high-altitude video footage of a total solar eclipse has been broadcast live.
“We’re excited to provide a unique perspective of this rare phenomenon,” Des Jardins said. “The live-stream video will show the curvature of the planet, the blackness of space, and the whole of the moon’s shadow crossing the Earth during the eclipse.”
Dakota Burklund is one of the students from ERAU participating in the project. The project posed many challenges, all of which were met and adequately addressed, Burkland said.
“To complete something of this scale required immense communication from all parties involved, demonstrating the importance of team work to myself and our team,” he said. “From the experience I have gained during this project, I feel confident that my team members and I are motivated and ready to use what we have learned here in our lives for years to come.”
In addition to a video camera, the team’s balloon will carry a GPS tracking system, a camera to capture still images of the eclipse, and the ASU Experimental Payload. Once the eclipse has passed, the balloon will pop and the payloads will parachute to Earth.
The Montana Space Grant Consortium at Montana State University initiated the project in 2014. The project is sponsored by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and NASA’s Space Grant program, a national network that includes over 900 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies belonging to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Information provided by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University