During a Monday evening club, aptly named ‘Out of this World!’, a group of Year 8 students are preparing for a very exciting event this Summer term. With the help of Mr Watt and Nick McCloud (a STEM ambassador), the group of students are planning on launching a payload into and beyond the stratosphere and indeed through the ozone layer.
The plan is for the payload, a polystyrene box containing mulitple sensors and cameras, to be launched with the use of a weather balloon. As the payload rises, it should reach a height well in excess of 100,000 feet before the balloon bursts and the box falls back to Earth. To put it another way, potentially upwards of over 5 times the height of Everest and 4 times the height that passenger planes fly at!
During the flight, we will have constant contact with the payload and its many sensors via a radio. We will also receive photos from the box every 15 seconds or so – the photos we receive can show the curvature of the Earth very clearly. With the payload having a GPS transmitter on board, we will be tracking it throughout its flight with the aim of retrieving the box once it has come back to Earth with the aid of a deployed parachute.
Typically, the payload will travel over 100 miles and trackers in the school minibus will follow this journey. Soon before the launch, we will perform accurate predictions with the use of sophisticated software to give a very good indication of where the payload will land. Currently the students are preparing by learning how to code the ‘Raspberry Pi’ computer inside the payload, learning how to make predictions and track it. We will provide regular updates on our progress!