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*MEDIA ADVISORY*

BalloonsWHAT: 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:
8 a.m. -- instructors will start inflating balloons in the Kim Building Rotunda and carefully measure and adjust lift of each
8:30 a.m. -- students will arrive, check out their payloads, and tie them on to the balloons
9 a.m. -- final weather check; communicate with College Park Airport; go - no go decision
9:30 a.m. -- all teams bring their balloons and payloads out the double doors and gather in the middle of the Kim Plaza
10 a.m. -- final communications check with ground station, countdown and simultaneous release of all 5 balloons
After the release -- audio monitoring of data downlinked from payloads to ground station

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)

MORE INFO:
For more information about this and other projects underway in the Balloon Payload Group, go to www.NearSpace.net.

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

CONTACT:
Missy Corley

mcorley@umd.edu
301-405-6501

 

For More Information:

E-Mail our media staff or call:

(301) 405-6501

   
 

Images

Click on the links below for hi-res images; Credit: Clark School of Engineering

For a selection of photos with captions, click here.

Set-up

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New! Photo 7

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Pre-launch

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Launch

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