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Overview of the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP)

Author
  • Randal Larimer (Montana Space Grant Consortium)

Abstract

The focus of the NEBP is to broaden participation ofSTEM learners by immersing teams from a wide range of higher educationinstitutions in an innovative NASA-mission-like adventure in data acquisitionand analysis through scientific ballooning during the 10/14/2023 annular and4/8/2024 total solar eclipses. NEBP will engage 85 teams in equitable,inclusive learning on two primary tracks – 1) atmospheric science and 2)engineering.  Engaging 85 teams spreadacross the country will be a challenge. The teams will be from a variety ofcollege types, the students will have different background knowledge levels, andthe available mentoring will vary. To meet these challenges, the teams will bedivided into ten geographic pods, five for each track. Each pod has a Pod Leadwho will create a cohesive community with their 8-10 teams.

The atmospheric science track will launch small standardizedcommercial off-the-shelf radiosondes of less than 190 grams that are used tomeasure atmospheric parameters through the stratosphere. At sites along thepath of totality, NEBP participants will make frequent observations by launchinghourly radiosondes on weather balloons to 100,000 - 110,000 feet. In addition,they will collect high-temporal resolution surface-site data. This design willprovide surface, lower, and middle atmospheric observations with enough spatialand temporal sampling to contrast the meteorological differences before, during,and after the eclipse. The surface stations will provide independentmeasurements of solar irradiance at the surface.  Data analysis will be done after the eclipses.

The engineering track balloon platforms are capable oflifting up to 12 pounds of student-built payloads into the stratosphere duringthe eclipse. Typical engineering platform experiments include atmosphericmeasurements, photography, cosmic radiation measurements, and space technologyproofs of concept. The learners will generate real-time video that will bestreamed to the planned NASA eclipse website, make-high resolution precisionGPS measurements to compliment the radiosonde data, and conduct otherapplicable individually designed experiments. The FAA and other stakeholders willuse near real-time balloon location on the NEBP flight tracker website.

Keywords: NEBP, Eclipse

How to Cite:

Larimer, R., (2024) “Overview of the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP)”, Academic High Altitude Conference 2022(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ahac.15651

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Published on
23 Apr 2024
Peer Reviewed