Dark side of the moon
The University of Maine High Altitude Ballooning group will be in South Carolina on Aug. 21 to provide people around the world with a live view of the total eclipse from the edge of space. The contingent, led by engineering professor Rick Eason, is part of the history-making NASA-sponsored project the “Great American Eclipse.” Students from 55 teams nationwide will launch high-altitude balloons equipped to live stream aerial footage of this rare phenomenon to the NASA website.
Countdown. Five, four, three, two, one.
It’s pretty awesome, when you start on the ground and you make sure everything’s turned on. When you let go of that balloon, it’s a little scary feeling at first, because you don’t know if everything is quite working until it gets a little ways up, but there’s also some joy in it, just seeing it go up and just wondering what’s going to happen when it gets way up there.
It’s a NASA-funded project, so the goal is to give just another way to view the eclipse that people haven’t really experienced before, people that might not be able to see the eclipse in person, just give this perspective, the view from the eclipse from all these different balloons along the eclipse path.
I’ve been working to make sure everything’s ready.
We had to build some payload boxes, fix broken payload boxes, a lot of video diagnostics to get our live video working, trying to conduct practice launches, and just lots and lots of testing to make sure everything’s ready for the final show. We make it work and then we launch it.
There are 55 ballooning teams across the country that’ll be along the path of the eclipse, and we’re one of those teams. As one of these teams, we’re going to be sending up these common payloads that all teams are using. It’s a video payload with — be capturing live video and sending it down, streaming it down, and we’ll be putting it on the internet to a common website. Then there’s also another payload that does still images, and then in addition to that, we’ll have a couple of other experiments.
I’m very, very excited.
I’m really looking forward to, once that balloon gets up there, tapping into a live video and start seeing what’s going on out there. All the people who are going to be watching, it’s going to be real busy down there.
Being able to go down and actually view the eclipse is one thing, but being able to actually view it live from 120,000 feet up in the air is something else.