SC State Hosts Balloon Research Workshop

Monday, April 13, 2009

South Carolina State University is hosting a balloon research workshop April 16-18, 2009 for students and faculty members. Institutions partnering with SC State include: Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, the University of Houston Downtown campus and Medgar Evers College of Brooklyn, New York.

The launch site for the balloon research workshop is being provided by Super Sod.

SC State’s workshop is the third workshop hosted among the partners, and is being funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Previous workshops were held in New York and Texas, whose purpose is to build research capability at the schools using balloon platforms.

A total of three balloon launches are scheduled during the workshop. Each balloon will carry a small payload that will measure ozone content in the atmosphere from ground level up to nearly 100,000 feet, nearly 20 miles above the surface of the Earth. During the three hours of flight time, equipment on the balloon will radio data to the ground such as altitude, temperature, relative humidity and the amount of ozone in the air. The data will be analyzed by students and faculty members and later published as part of a much larger study of how the amount of ozone in the atmosphere varies with time and location.

“The preparation and launch of a science payload on one of these balloons is an exciting experience and a great opportunity for our schools to be involved in an important field of study,” said Dr. Donald Walter, professor of physics, SC State. “This is an excellent way to get precollege students interested in science,” says Dr. James Payne, the NSF-ATE Project Director at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. “We plan to launch balloons as part of our Gateway Summer Camps for middle school students,” Payne continued.

In the future, the four schools will coordinate simultaneous launches from South Carolina, New York and Texas.