My third launch was entitled Furiosity. The purpose of this mission was to build a cheap and modular platform to easily and quickly send payloads to high altitude.
It was based on 2 modules: A system module and a payload module. The system module included 2 GPS trackers, a solar powered APRS transmitter, a sensor data logger and 3 cameras. The payload module contained the experiments built by 2 teams of students from Valley Christian High School in Dublin, CA
Furiosity was launch from the pacific coast near Pescadero, CA. It followed the predicted flight path and reached an altitude of almost 119,000ft. At which point, the balloon burst and the capsule fell back down to earth at an unusual fast speed. More than 180mph. It only started to really slow down at 50,000ft. It fell 100,000ft in 15 minutes. We followed its trajectory until all communications suddenly stopped at 9000ft.
Despite intensive ground search, I was not able to locate it.
|Cameras||Canon PowerShot SD1200IS + 4Gb SD Card (photo script w/CHDK)
GoPro + 32Gb SD Card (Class 10)
GoPro2 + Battery BackPack + 32Gb SD Card (Class 10)
|Power|| 6V 3.7W Solar Panel x2 + Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger + MintyBoost
Lithium Ion Polymer Battery & Energyzer Lithim ultimate batteries
|Computer System||Arduino UNO + sensor shield V5 + data logging shield|
|Sensors||Digital Temperature Sensor module DS18B20 x2
Light sensor module
|Trackers||Byonics Micro-Trak RTG + Byonics GPS4
|Launch Point||37.235842,-122.416068 near Pescadero, CA|
|Total weight||~4.4 lbs
|Highest Altitude||118,855ft (36,227m)|
|Distance traveled||~71miles (115km) (estimation)|
|Flight Duration||2h20min (Ascent took 2 hours)|
|Average ascent rate||1016ft/min|
|Average descent rate||6150ft/min|
|Max fall rate||185mph (300kmph) at 70,000 ft
The fast descent seems to indicate a parachute entanglement. We were using a 1600g weather balloon. Bigger and heavier than the 1200g balloon used in my previous flights. The balloon never completely bursts, it’s possible it collapsed the parachute or that it got tangled up with the parachute.
The parachute system did not completely fail as the fall rate at 8000ft was about 25mph.
Vertical Speed (mph) vs Altitude (ft)
- Experiment 1:
High-Altitude Radiation Repercussion Yields (HARRY) by Jarrod Poston
Intro: HARRY will demonstrate the mutational effects of radiation on produce, particularly plant seeds. This will later give us insight on measures that will need to be taken to protect plant life while being transported in the upper atmosphere. If in the future scramjets, aircraft that will make traveling shorter by jumping into the upper atmosphere or space, are used then this test on the effects of high-altitude radiation will be critical in showing that you need or do not need technology to protect organic cargo from the effects of high-altitude radiation.
Description: HARRY will be conducted using a high-altitude weather balloon to carry a capsule containing it. Inside the capsule will be a diverse range of different seeds held in their own sterile, plastic bags of the same size. On the earth there will be another set of seeds held in sterile, plastic bags of the same size for the same amount of time in the same amount of light. After the radiation exposed seeds return to Earth, both sets of bags will be opened, physical appearances on the outside and inside will be examined, and the left over seeds from each group will be planted. All seeds from the same species will be exposed to the same conditions, nutrition, and water. The plants will be observed during the plant life cycle to see if there are any distinct differences between the radiated and non-radiated plants. Even after reproduction the plants and their offspring will be observed and data compiled. In the end, the data will be charted and analyzed, and a conclusion will be drawn.
- Problem-Are seeds affected by high-altitude radiation?
- Hypothesis-I believe that the radiated plants will have some apparent mutations, while their offspring will have more mutations.
- Experiment-As described in the “Description” above.
- Materials-Small plastic bags, labels, pots, soil, water (and sunlight), nutrients, table space, microscope, microscope slide materials, lab knifes, weather balloon, and capsule.
- Control-Seeds in sterile, plastic bags of the same size.
- Data-Will be plant looks, including the following; disfigurations, color, height and other dimensions, and offspring physical characteristics as listed beforehand, plus, ability to reproduce.
- Conclusion-TBD. Will be published and maybe used in a Science Fair.
End: This experiment should help us answer the question of how plants are affected by high-altitude radiation, and it should lead us to many more questions to be answered in the future.
- Experiment 2
Cosmic ray capture by Tiffany Lee and Christine Chen
· Requirements: We require rolls of ultra-sensitive film (1600 ISO and 3200 ISO) as well as a lightproof container to prevent the damaging of the film. The lightproof container will be a Delta 1 Light Tight Safe-T-Bag. The effects of temperature should not affect the results of the experiment.
· Hypothesis: Due to the balloon’s near-space elevation, gamma rays, which are blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, should be captured by the high-sensitive film, as well as other rays such as X rays & alpha and beta particles. The lightproof bag should properly prevent any light from damaging the film; while, the radiation that we hope to “catch” should be able to penetrate through the lightproof bag well enough that we can observe the effects of radiation upon the film.
· Expected results: As a result of radiation that the film is exposed to, we expect to see some “points: or traces of radiation from which we can analyze the markings and determine which type(s) of radiation our film was exposed to and “captured”.
The only sensor data retrieved was sent by radio during the flight. (Time is in UTC)
Battery voltage (in Volts) of the radio transmitter
Temperature (in degrees Celsius) inside the transmitter enclosure
We would think that the 2h ascent would cool the capsule to its lowest temperature. It’s interesting to see that during the descent (The balloon burst at 20:17 UTC = 1:17pm PST) the friction of the cold air cooled the capsule even more. (Above 15,000ft, the air is usually colder than 33 degrees F (0 degree C)))
The system module
The payload module
Filling the weather balloon
Activating the trackers
Checking the telemetry
We lost contact 2h20 into the flight at 8800ft. Based on our predictions, it landed in a fairly dense farmland. Without accurate GPS coordinates, we were not able to locate it.
- Bad mounting between the capsule, the parachute and the balloon is the most likely cause for the parachute failure and very fast fall rate.
- We can only imagine the chaos of the descent. At such speed, the solar panels probably broke and a severe spin could have disconnected the radio antenna or the power source of the GPS transmitters.
- A compact positioning system such as a Spot tracker or a cell phone would have survived the fall and communicated the landing location. APRS transmitters are good for live telemetry only.
- The solar panels made the capsule unstable by design.
- The Burst, Descent and Landing phase of a high altitude launch has many similarities with the Entry, Descent and Landing phase of a space probe.
It’s the most critical phase and it should dictate the capsule design and layout.