High Altitude Student Ballooning Project

            During the summer of 2009, as a result of a competitive award by Louisiana Space Grant under the sponsorship of National Science Foundation, Dr. Atin Sinha and 3 of the engineering students spent 9 weeks at Louisiana State University designing and developing a small scientific payload for launching in helium filled balloon to upper atmosphere. Students from ASU and Central State University from Ohio (another HBCU) participated in this project. The balloon with 12 payloads (many are designed / fabricated by students from LSU, ASU and CSU) was launched on July 28th from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility at Palestine, Texas. Upon successful retrieval of the payload, students made presentation of their scientific data before NASA and project staff on July 30th before coming home.

              The Physics and Engineering faculty members at the Natural Science Department will continue this work (mentoring design and fabrication of a small scientific payload by the students) here at ASU throughout this academic year (fall 2009 and spring 2010) with modest financial support from the NSF funding and will send the new student team accompanied by a faculty member to Palestine next summer to launch their payload. In order to design the payload the students must complete a “Student Ballooning Course” that will be conducted in the fall 2009 semester to teach them the basics of electronics, software, cost control, project management and above all technical writing in the form of Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review and Flight Readiness Review each of which has to be submitted by a pre-announced date. This course is open to everyone in STEM fields but due to the intense hands-on approach, long hours and commitment required to succeed in this project, attendance to this course will be limited to the real high achiever in their respective fields (3.0 GPA or above). Students will attend the ballooning course for about 6 hours every week. The design of the new payload will start at the end of the course and will continue during the spring 2010 semester that will culminate in building a small payload container housing the electronics, power supply, camera and other hardware not to exceed 500 gm. The students also have to write the software codes to control the camera or other hardware and record the scientific data during the flight of the balloon to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere.

High Altitude Student Ballooning Project for Launching Small Scientific Payload

Photo Gallery - Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Palestine, Texas

Activities on the Launch Day July 28th, 2009 at Palestine, Texas
Journey of the student payload through the atmosphere