Local contact: Dakota Burklund, NASA Space Grant Scholar

PRESCOTT, AZ. – A team of students and faculty from the Arizona Space Grant Consortium at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Arizona State University will launch a high-altitude balloon on Aug. 21 as part of a nationwide, NASA-sponsored project to live-stream aerial video footage of the “Great American Eclipse.”

The team will launch the roughly eight foot tall, helium-filled balloon, which will carry a video camera and other equipment to an altitude of up to 100,000 feet, at approximately 9:45 a.m. MDT nearby the Glendo, Wyoming State Park. Live footage from the camera will be available for public viewing on NASA’s website, http://nasa.gov.

As part of the Eclipse Ballooning Project, 55 teams from across the country will have live-stream footage of the total solar eclipse, in which the moon will entirely block the sun for approximately two minutes on a path progressing from the Pacific coast in Oregon (9:05 a.m. PDT) to the Atlantic coast in South Carolina (2:48 p.m. EDT).

The NASA-sponsored project, which is led by the Montana Space Grant Consortium at Montana State University, has been years in the making. According to MSGC Director Angela Des Jardins, the project marks the first time that high-altitude video footage of a total solar eclipse has been broadcast live.

In addition to a video camera, the team’s balloon will carry a GPS tracking system, a camera to capture still images of the eclipse, and the ASU Experimental Payload. Once the eclipse has passed, the balloon will pop and the payloads will parachute to Earth.

The Montana Space Grant Consortium at Montana State University initiated the project in 2014. The project is sponsored by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and NASA’s Space Grant program, a national network that includes over 900 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies belonging to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Special thanks to the mentors from both universities, Jack Crabtree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Tom Sharp from Arizona State University. Thanks to Arizona Near Space Research for helping organize the opportunity to have both universities working together on this project. A small group of students went to an event hosted by Montana State University, to build a tracking station and payloads. These systems have been updated, proven, and now will fly during the 2017 Eclipse Ballooning Project.

Students involved in this project from ERAU are:

– Dakota Burklund

– Alan Davis

– Michael Fusco

– Steven Buck

– Robert Velarde

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