Students build and launch a sensor into space

August 12th, 2008 - 5:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 12 (IANS) Students built and launched a cosmic radiation detector into space with the help of a 12-inch helium filled balloon that reached an altitude of 104,000 feet. The instrument recorded radiation levels at varying altitudes - information that will be used by NASA to develop instrumentation for space flight.

“This is really amazing,” said Carl Johnson, a physics graduate student who designed and built the device. “Our detector actually flew to the edge of outer space and then back to ground, and the whole time it worked perfectly.”

The high-altitude balloon carried a radiation detector, high-resolution camera, sensors for temperature, pressure and humidity, and a GPS module to determine altitude and geographic position.

The balloon and instrumentation was launched from the OSU Stillwater campus and landed about 10 miles away in Perry. Oklahoma Stare University (OSU) engineering graduate and undergraduate students Joe Conner, Xander Buck and Ryan Paul conducted the launch.

Funded through a NASA EPSCoR grant, this project was overseen by Eric Benton and Eduardo Yuihara of OSU physics department and Andy Arena of OSU department of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Benton said “the purpose of the grant is not only to develop instrumentation for use in space flight but also to promote student interest in science and engineering through experiments with high-altitude balloons.”

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