In collaboration with the Montana State University, NASA is launching bacteria-balloons in the stratosphere.
This event prepared by NASA is part of the “Eclipse Ballooning Project” whose aim is to help scientists prepare for a Mars trip.
During the eclipse, NASA will be sending 75 balloons with cameras and trackers above 80,000 feet in the air. More than 30 of these balloons will carry a bacteria called Paenibacillus xerothermodurans. With this project, researchers want to discover how the bacteria will react on Mars.
According to the project leader and Director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium Angela Des Jardins, they have to be very careful not to bring bacteria or other Earth organisms to the other planets. Even though some of these forms of life will not be able to survive the whole trip in the space, it is possible that those get off the course and survive on other planets. In this experiment, it is vital that we see how they behave at the destination — Mars.
These balloons will have cameras installed so they can record videos of cloud formations during the solar eclipse. In addition, many of them will carry weather stations called radiosondes. This will enable the scientists to learn how earth’s atmosphere changes during an eclipse.
Jardins expects to have the images and videos ready within a day or two after the eclipse.
Analysis of the bacteria experiment will be done by scientists at Cornell and it will likely be a month or two before results are ready. Analysis of the atmospheric response to the eclipse (from our special set of weather balloons) will similarly take a month or two.
The scientists are ready to learn more from the solar eclipse on Monday. Do you wonder how this experiment will benefit you? Guess what? NASA will provide us with a live stream directly from its balloons cameras. Now that’s AWESOME! [Below some more details]
Eclipse Ballooning Project Facts:
1.Iridium satellites, in combination with GPS satellites, communicate the location of each balloon.
2.The project consists of 57 high altitude ballooning teams of students at Universities and High Schools from across the US.
3.The balloons will ascend to 100,000 feet above the Earth and will burst shortly after the conclusion of the eclipse.
4.On board, the balloons have a modem for transmitting videos and images. The eclipse will be visible from the edge of space to anybody with internet access.
Be sure to watch the eclipse live from the edge of space by going HERE.
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