Palestine balloon facility to take part in eclipse research

Published on Friday, 11 August 2017 15:24 - Written by DANNY MOGLE, danny@inmagtexas.com

The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine will be part of the effort to live stream and conduct experiments during the upcoming total eclipse of the sun.

The facility was in charge of making and delivering dozens of small high-altitude balloons that will be deployed as part of the Eclipse Balloon Project, said Ross Hays, a meteorologist at the facility that specializes in unmanned high-altitude balloons.

“Some of the balloons will be carrying cameras and others will have payloads with experiments created by student groups,” Hays said.

During the eclipse on Aug. 21, 55 teams of college and high school students will be positioned along the path of totality and launch the balloons to gather data and video, according to information from NASA.

Small computers will allow the teams to control the balloons.

“The balloons will reach altitude of up to 100,000 feet above most of Earth’s atmosphere,” Angela Des Jardins, the leader of the project said in a video news release. “From this edge-of-space perspective, you can see the curvature of Earth and the blackness of space. We believe this unique perspective of the eclipse shadow gliding across the surface of the Earth will be really engaging.”

The teams will be the first to capture video of a total solar eclipse from the edge of space, she said.

The video will be streamed live on the NASA website and can be viewed live at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-live-stream.

“We estimate that hundreds of millions of people will see this awe-inspiring video footage,” she said.

The project is being spearheaded by Montana State University. Hays said that during the eclipse he will be at the university to help monitor the progress.

Hays said the balloons are designed to burst after the eclipse and the payloads will fall to earth on parachutes.