S43 Long Duration Balloon Flights for the Support of Educational Projects

Sunday, 6 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Nathan Hamet, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; and A. Ridley

Balloon systems serve as a nearly ideal test bed for satellite components in a near-space environment. They allow atmospheric and space industries to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of new technology on a practical and cost-effective platform. Balloon test beds also aid scientists and engineers in their research, allowing them access to real-time data and validation of payloads, in a near-space environment, for long duration periods. The rapid ascent of high altitude balloons allows for very accurate measurements of planetary ozone and boundary layer characteristics. Balloon platforms, such as zero pressure balloons, can also be used for long duration measurements of stratospheric radiation.

This presentation will discuss the student balloon efforts at the University of Michigan, which began in the graduate Space Systems Design course, Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Science 583, in the winter of 2009. After the term, leadership transferred to the Student Space Systems Fabrication Lab (S3FL). High Altitude Solutions (HAS), supports S3FL and the Michigan NanoSat Pipeline as a high altitude test platform. The designing, building, testing, and flying of actual systems over the course of a single semester provides students with the full design life cycle experience and the rush of a tangible flight experience. This flight experience is key to retaining excitement and invigorating the next generation of atmospheric and space scientists as well as engineers. The technical subsystems of the balloon payloads are analogous to the basic building blocks of satellites. Thus, as students are trained on balloons, they can transition to working on satellite systems, significantly reducing ramp-up time for new engineers as they enter the workforce.

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