“To infinity and beyond!” – well, something like that. Today, a Geoforce prototype GPS tracking device will be shot into the atmosphere to help the students of Derry Area (PA) High School’s newest class, Mythbusters, see if they could build a vessel and have it reach an altitude of 100,000 feet. Yea, not your typical day in oil and gas asset tracking, but the idea caught our interest.
A proposal we couldn’t refuse
The Geoforce involvement in this project began a few weeks ago when Mythbusters teacher, Brian Clawson, contacted us asking for help. Clawson explained that while they were researching different projects to test out for the semester, they stumbled across a couple YouTube videos in which a balloon with a Styrofoam cooler containing a camera was launched into the atmosphere. “The photos that people had taken were breathtaking,” Clawson told me. “Students started questioning whether or not we could try this and attain an altitude of 100,000 feet to do a similar project.” After researching and brainstorming what the students thought to be the proper equipment, they started to design their payload vessel. An HD video camera had already been donated to the class by GoPro, and after Clawson approached us requesting a tracking device to determine where their vessel landed upon its return to earth, we felt this would be a very cool project.
Today, students will launch a 1200 gram High Altitude Weather Balloon that has been attached to a parachute and then attached to the payload vessel. Once the balloon is filled with approximately 120 cubic feet of helium, the payload, parachute and balloon will be projected, at a minimum, to reach 110,000 feet in altitude. At that altitude the HD GoPro camera can capture the curve of the Earth and the landscapes below. At its maximum altitude, the class believes, the balloon will reach 32 feet in diameter before it bursts. The balloon will begin a free fall descent until enough air molecules are available to inflate the parachute. Once the parachute has been deployed the payload should descend at no more than 15 feet per second. Depending on the upper atmosphere winds and jet stream, the class has hypothesized that the payload vessel will land approximately 60 miles from the launch site. Thanks to Geoforce’s GPS tracking device, the class can track their vessel using Geoforce’s mobile application and retrieve it to collect the necessary data. We are waiting in anticipation to find out if the Derry Area High School class was successful in their venture. Geoforce will be retweeting the students live tweets at @geoforce during and after the launch which will take place at 10:00 am EST. Follow the class at @DerryMythbuster. Stay tuned to find out more about the asset tracker’s trek into space!