Whisconier Middle School (WMS) science teacher Geoff Bergen and fellow Almost Rocket Science podcaster Rhett Youngberg built a special high altitude balloon and rig with six cameras this summer then sent it up 20 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The six cameras (and one video camera that malfunctioned) took photos every five seconds throughout the flight, which were later put together to produce the panoramic shots seen above and a 3D rendering of the sky from 100,000 feet directly above our heads.
As the rig rose, the atmospheric pressure around it lightened, exerting less pressure on the outside of the balloon. Eventually, when the balloon had expanded to over 28 feet in diameter, the balloon popped, sending the rig back to Earth.
Two hours and 20 minutes after launching in Roscoe, NY, on Jan. 12, the rig set down softly (at about 9 mph) in Berlin, CT. Using GPS and a predictor website to track the trajectory, Bergen and Youngberg were there to pick it up shortly after it landed in someone’s yard.
Bergen said the two plan to build a new rig — cannibalizing parts from the old one that weren’t too damaged — and launch it this spring with added scientific equipment.
“We’ll add sensors that measure the temperature and altitude,” he offered, stating that the prime goal will be to get “data to use in the classroom… let the kids use real data.”
The other goal, according to Bergen, was to “tell people that it’s really pretty easy to do,” and encouraged other to try.
To help with that, Youngberg is putting together a documentary on the process titled “Earth 360.” Read more about the documentary, view the trailer and find out how to build your own high altitude rig at their website.