Posted By Robert Brand On 01 Aug 2011.
***Recovered from Archives***
Note that this post is out of order and is one of our first.
As you may have realized, I love space and I have a real desire to be involved in Do-It-Yourself space missions. This is a part of that process. I am announcing my first weather balloon project – a series that I have named UpLift for rather obvious reasons. The mission progress and outcome will be posted here as it progresses. Currently I am working with a Primary School and a Secondary College here in Sydney, Australia and I hope to include a local school in the middle of NSW. We will be streaming the launch video and of course you will be able to track the flight on the day. I have been on another team as you all know and I continue to be involved in the SpaceQuest missions and more news on a recent test flight shortly. The UpLift missions though are different. These are my own “Hands-on” flights that will be part of student outreach allowing students to help in the planning and discovery process and to take ownership of some parts of the flights and the outcome.
Friday Sept 9th 2011 is the date with a backup date of Friday Sept 16th 2011 should the weather be bad. The flights will be morning flights probably around 10am.
The image at the top of page is the current predictions for a landing near Parkes in NSW. It is the closest place near Sydney with reasonably safe landing sites. Of course there is a one hour buffer of mainly farm land before we get into rugged territory. That is not the only reason. There is an APRS tracking station located in Parkes and that is pretty important to the mission and tracking the balloon.
So where is the launch? Predictions might change, but at this time we are looking at Goolgowi, NSW, Australia. It is located at -33.9667 [latitude in decimal degrees], 145.683 [longitude in decimal degrees] and has an elevation/altitude of about 115 meters. It’s population is around 400 people. You can click on the image above and it will open in a new screen – click again and you can see the picture full screen. We will have to monitor the flight predictions and possibly change the location of the launch site to try and drop the payload near Parkes
Soon after the launch, we will clean up the area and the recovery team will chase the balloon back to (hopefully) somewhere near Parkes NSW where we will stay the weekend and visit the Radio Telescope where I occasionally worked on some deep space missions. So how does the balloon come down? Simply the balloon expands in the thin atmosphere and bursts. Calculating the rate of climb, the winds and the size of parachute leads to the predictions as shown above. The file is output as a Google Earth .kml file and displayed on Google Earth. Tracking is similar, but real time. Tracking is done by converting the APRS test files to .kml files, but tracking the plot is easily visible of an APRS tracking site. More later.
How high will the balloon fly? – 100,000 feet if we are lucky. +20 miles / +30kms. We will carry cameras and amateur radio tracking equipment. We will use helium for the balloon. The flight will be from east to west because of the prevailing Jet Stream winds and they may flow at between 100 and 200kph – 62 to 125mph.
The flight is just 6 weeks away so more news shortly