Purdue students to launch high-altitude balloon

March 6, 2012

High altitude balloon captures campus landscape.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A group of Purdue University students will launch a high-altitude balloon Saturday (March 10) to prepare for an intercollegiate competition at the end of the month.

The students, most of them in aeronautics and astronautics in the College of Engineering, will launch the balloon to 100,000 feet, four times the height that commercial planes fly. Attached will be a 6-pound payload that will collect atmospheric data such as temperature, pressure and relative humidity. Cameras will take photos along the way.

The launch is scheduled for noon at Purdue's intramural fields along Airport Road. The team will begin setting up at 10 a.m., and the public is invited to watch the launch.

After the launch, the team will chase the balloon until it lands.

"Our balloon is equipped with a GPS chip that collects position and altitude data, which is then transmitted via a radio transmitter in the balloon payload," said team leader Brent Justice, a junior in aeronautical engineering from Columbus, Ohio. "We have radio receivers in our cars, so we will spend the rest of the day on the highway trying to keep up with the balloon. If the radio were to fail, we have a GPS-enabled cell phone that will transmit GPS coordinates to a cell tower when the balloon lands."

The team is preparing to compete in the 2012 High Altitude Intercollegiate Balloon Competition on March 31 at the University of Evansville.

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu  

Source: Brent Justice, justiceb@purdue.edu