A team of students and faculty from the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) at New Mexico State University will launch a high-altitude balloon on August 21, 2017 as part of a nationwide, NASA-sponsored project to live-stream aerial video footage of the “Great American Eclipse.” The team will launch the roughly 8-foot-tall, helium-filled balloon, which will carry a video camera and other equipment to an altitude of up to 100,000 feet at the Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Nebraska. Live footage from the camera will be available for public viewing on NASA Eclipse Live website.
This project presents an amazing hands-on learning opportunity for the students who are participating. Here’s a diagram of what the NMSU team is doing:
C – Cut down: A system that mechanically severs the line connecting the payload string to the balloon when commanded.
I – Tracking Payload: Housing an NAL Iridium satellite modem near real time tracking of the balloon and payload string is possible for both FAA and the ground station tracking.
V- Video Payload: A Raspberry Pi and Pi Camera are to record and transmit an HD video feed to the ground station using a 5.8Ghz Ubiquiti modem.
S – Still Image Payload: Using a Raspberry Pi, Pi Camera and 900Mhz we can send modem images to the ground station and send commands/settings to and from the payload.
Ground Station: While tracking the balloon during flight, the ground station gathers live HD video stream and uploads it to the internet. The ground station also allows users to receive images from and send commands to the still image payload.
Heat Exchanger: In addition, students are working on secondary payload consisting of a heat exchanger with wavy channels designed to increase the efficiency of propellants.