Blind Youth to Launch Weather Balloons at the University of Maryland
WHAT: As part of the National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam, A. James Clark School of Engineering students will assist blind high school students with a weather balloon launch. The students will build, test, and fly a small payload that measures temperature and pressure as it rises high in the atmosphere. The payload includes a GPS unit and a radio that will send data back to the ground during the entire hour-long flight.
The payloads will be lifted up to "near-space" by the balloon that is somewhere in size between a large party balloon and a small weather balloon. Around 30,000 or 40,000 feet in altitude, the balloon will burst and the payloads will descend on parachutes to the ground somewhere on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
"This is like a small microcosm of what NASA goes through to launch a payload but considerably less expensive!" says Terry Teays, assistant director of the Maryland Space Grant Consortium and one of the instructors for this project.
Once the balloons are released, data radioed down from the payloads will be received at a ground station and automatically translated into audio so the students can listen to their data as the balloons ascend.
WHO: The balloon payload group of the Clark School Space Systems Lab is helping to conduct one part of a week-long summer science academy for blind high school students from all across the country, sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). There are five teams of three students and a mentor.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, *weather-permitting*
The tentative schedule for the morning is as follows:
If the weather and winds aloft cooperate, all five balloons will be released simultaneously.
WHERE: the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building on the University of Maryland, College Park, campus (directions here)
For more information about the National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam, visit: http://www.blindscience.org/ncbys/youth_slam.asp
Clark School of Engineering: http://www.eng.umd.edu