Missouri S&T selected for Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project

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On December 19, 2022

Participants in Missouri S&T’s “Space – The Final Frontier” camp prepare to launch a high-altitude balloon in summer 2019. Photo by Tom Wagner/Missouri S&T.

Missouri S&T students will have the opportunity to contribute to eclipse science during two upcoming solar eclipses as part of the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project in 2023 and 2024.

“Missouri S&T has been conducting high altitude balloon launches since 2013, but this is the first time we’ve participated in the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project,” says Dr. Jillian Schmidt, associate teaching professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T. “We’re excited to connect with others in the high-altitude ballooning community as we participate in this program.”

Participating students will build, test and launch a set of high-altitude balloon payloads and assemble a ground station to track data from their balloon. During the eclipses, the team’s balloon will livestream footage from the stratosphere, 75,000 – 120,000 feet above Earth. Missouri S&T students will have to travel to the path of the eclipses, with tentative plans to travel to the Albuquerque area for the October 2023 eclipse and Cape Girardeau, Missouri for the April 2024 eclipse.

The 2023 eclipse will be an annular eclipse, meaning that the Sun and Moon will be in alignment but because the Moon will be farther away from Earth than during a total eclipse it will not completely cover the Sun. The 2024 eclipse will be the last total eclipse visible in the contiguous United States until 2044.

The Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP) started in 2014 at Montana State University. NEBP is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Science Activation program and by NASA’s Space Grant College and Fellowship program.

About Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System and located in Rolla, Missouri, Missouri S&T offers 101 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top 10 universities for return on investment, according to Business Insider. S&T also is home to the Kummer Institute, made possible by a $300 million gift from Fred and June Kummer. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu.

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On December 19, 2022. Posted in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

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2 thoughts on “Missouri S&T selected for Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project”

  • Kim Colter says:

    I’m curious about what data the MST students will be tracking during the two eclipses, and how being at high altitude will be advantageous to collecting that data compared to collection of the same data at ground level.

    • Laura Studyvin says:

      Hi Kim, I reached out to Dr. Schmidt for more information. She says: “The team from Missouri S&T is on the engineering track for this project, so our focus will be launching video equipment to livestream video of the eclipse and the eclipse shadow to a central website for public viewing. The high-altitude balloon will provide a unique vantage point for eclipse photography and video. There are also teams from other institutions participating in the atmospheric science track, and one of their goals will be to collect data to detect atmospheric gravity waves across the eclipse path.” There’s more information on the two different tracks on the NEBP website at https://eclipse.montana.edu/ebp-tracks.html.