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Group sends weather balloon to capture aurora at 100,000 feet

by Lorien Nettleton ~ April 4th, 2012

A Group of researchers were in Talkeetna this week to capture HD video of the aurora from the edge of space. Hailing from Texas and New Jersey, the group flew to the Ruth Glacier to launch a high-atmosphere weather balloon during a daylight launch to send a High Definition video camera to the upper atmosphere.

Dr. Benjamin Longmier is a plasma physicist and rocket scientist, and he says the Talkeetna launch is one of between ten and thirty launches they will attempt in Alaska.

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These Launches are experiments to capture video of the Aurora at a near-space altitude, as well as to collect plasma data with instruments. He says his group is conducting science experiments and pushing atmospheric exploration and technology at the same time.

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Longmier was accompanied by graduate students from Texas A & M’s aerospace engineering department who have design the harnesses for the balloons to carry the cameras to the high atmosphere. Teachers from New York and New Jersey were also with the group, looking to use the research to involve middle and high-school students in Science Technology Engineering and Math programs.

Once the balloons achieve a critical height of around 100-thousand feet, they rupture and releasing the payload with camera and instruments, and the group then has the challenge of searching for the cameras and instruments from whichever wild part of Alaska they may land.

Video from this week’s launches should be available in the next few weeks on the group’s website, projectaether.org. While there, you can also view footage from previous launches.

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