HTH Near Space Balloon Project

Physics/Engineering 2

Near Space Balloon Imaging Project Sheet


For this project, we have several different teams working to build our final product. The hope is to launch the weather balloon sometime in early to mid-april. This project sheet should help guide each group in the work they are doing. This is an evolving process where you all have freedom to create within the context of the design. Good luck!


Imaging Team

This group is extremely important to the overall final product. We are looking to capture images from near space. Without this group’s contribution, our task will be impossible. With that in light, the imaging team needs to work on the following over the coming weeks:

  • Develop an understanding for how the GoPro works and what its limitations are. You must figure out every mode of operation and be able to easily explain what that mode of operation does. You need to gather information on battery life, powering it, modes of operation and post-processing of GoPro data. You also must make recommendations on additional materials needed for the GoPro such as an sd card and the lcd screen. These recommendations must include cost estimate and manufacturer recommendation.

  • Find a second imagine source. Start with the UCSD Near Space Balloon Project and research other balloon imagers as well. Find a second way to capture photos. The recommendation has to account for the fact that we do not have copious amounts of money to throw at this project. We also want quality images.

  • Figure out how to best orient the imaging system to capture high quality images. What will happen to battery power in near space? What about the weather? How will that effect lenses? Do we need to keep the cameras warm? How so? There are a multitude of technical issues that need to be resolved within this group.

  • Work with the Launch team to decide on how the package will be installed and carried up by the balloon. This method has to be cost effective, light and technically sound.

  • Find a solution for powering the imaging system for the duration of the flight. We want to ensure we’re getting footage of the entire flight.

  • The imaging team should create a high quality sketch of their final design.


Safety Team

The safety team’s job is critical. If this system fails, we will not have a package or the information to recover. It is paramount that the safety team ensure a safe landing for our package.

  • First and foremost the safety team needs to make a recommendation for the parachute we will purchase. Work closely with the launch team to determine the type of parachute. Make sure it can handle a 6 lb payload. Also, use the USCD NSBP as a reference for determining which parachute might make sense.

  • The safety team should also work closely with the imaging team to determine how the package will be housed. What light-weight material, inexpensive housing would work best?

  • Find a low cost, effective, lightweight GPS system capable of finding the package after it has landed on the earth. This needs to be purchased soon so we can test. Make sure you use recommendations from other people who have done this.

  • The safety team should also make recommendations on how to keep the package warm while it is up in space. We could decide and purchase the temperature control system at any point.

  • Once the parachute is here, the safety team will be responsible for developing a test for it to ensure proper deployment before our final launch.

  • The safety team should create a high quality sketch of the parachute system and its method of deploy.


Launch Team

The launch team is essentially the team that will coordinate the work of every other team. If there are disagreements, the launch team will have a final say on how we proceed. With that in mind the launch team must do the following over the coming weeks.

  • Find an appropriate high quality, inexpensive weather balloon. Find reviews from people who have done this as evidence of what we should be doing. Use the UCSD NSBP as a reference or guide. We need this as soon as possible so we can purchase and build.

  • Figure out how the balloon will attach to both the parachute to ensure proper deploy and to the imaging package.

  • Based on the balloon we purchase, figure out how much helium we will need to fill it with in order for it to easily lift our payload.

  • Find a helium vendor and purchase the helium for the launch date.

  • Decide on a launch site and time that make sense based on evidence from others who have done this. Is April an ok time to launch?

  • Create a high quality sketch of the entire apparatus as it will look when fully built.


Recovery Team

The recovery team has an extremely important job in getting the package back after it has fallen to the earth. You must begin working on the following.

  • You must know how to use a GPS system to locate a given spot.

  • You must know how to navigate using maps in the backcountry. Work with the launch team to figure out where we will launch. We need to find appropriate maps for the surrounding region so we can find the package once it has landed.

  • You must be ready to walk quite a distance if necessary. Be fit.

  • Create a high quality sketch of the map showing the launch and land point, telling the story of how the package was recovered.



Outreach has a variable job that could turn into quite a bit of work, but will certainly be important and visible in the community.

  • Decide on a name for the near space balloon with the help of the class.

  • Design and develop a logo

  • Design and and create a way to identify the package as ours with all the pertinent information so whoever might find it can contact us.

  • Support other groups in gathering donations for materials when that is necessary.


Additional Data

If this is a true science project how can we expand on the science.

  • Is a live stream out of the question?

  • How can we capture some atmospheric data? Create a system.

  • Is there any other data we want to capture?



  • Document the class work.

  • Document the launch and recovery

  • Create educational films on how our telescope, mount, ioptron, and sky scout work so others can learn through a video.


Telescope/Astronomy Team

This group will play an integral role in supporting students throughout the school in learning how our astronomical equipment works.

  • Work with the documentary crew to create educational films for the telescope, mount, ioptron and sky scout.

  • Figure out how all of the above work in order to make the films.

  • Create high quality sketches of this equipment for our website.

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