Eclipse from the Edge of Space

The Columbus Space Program, FRC4188, is preparing to send 6 cameras and over a dozen science packages up to 100,000 feet to watch the August 21st eclipse! Here is our teaser video:

It includes footage from the July 8th launch of the 25th flight of our DREAMS program - Doing Research at Extreme Altitudes by Motivated Students.

We plan to post quick results after the eclipse including raw data. The video cameras should capture the shadow moving across Tennessee and Kentucky at 1448 miles per hour!

Hope it clear for everyone in the path - but there are no clouds at 100,000 feet (as long as we can recover the payload boxes :ahh: )!

Wow this is very awesome! What style rockets do you guys use to achieve this? Are they multistage rockets or do you guys just have one large motor that brings you up that high? Also what do you use for your rocket fuel, does it use a hybrid style motor with NO2 and rubber?

Please tell me you’re using a tested chute design, this is some footage that would be terrible to loose!

Also you mentioned reaserch at extreme altitudes, does that happen to deal with life up at that altitude? I saw a story about students launching a rocket nearly 100k feet to study this and am wondering if this was you guys.

pretty sure what they are doing is using weather balloons.

Yep, these are latex weather balloons designed to expand to 35-50 ft across depending on size and then shred. We do use rocket parachutes since they are the best source of parachutes for under 20 pounds. The payloads fall at almost 200 miles per hour with a parachute due to the 0.01 atmosphere of pressure / density up there and then land at about 10-15 mph.

Here is a 4 minute video showing the launch of DREAMS-6 back in May 2009:
Our cameras are much better now!

Awesome! I’m glad you’re participating and sharing your flight with the world. Are you doing a 360-degree video or just 6 camera angles?

Some friends and I are sending up a 3000g ballon with a rig that has 6 GoPro Session 5’s. We will be creating a 360-degree video for our engineering-focused YouTube channel (SciJoy).

Here is our current favorite camera - with their software, it is like having 5 cameras where you can select which quadrant to flatten into a 4k video.

This would also be a great camera to put on an FRC robot!

Our GoPro stopped working at 70,000ft on the last flight - think it was an older battery but will fly some active heaters for the eclipse.

Did you run the Kodak exposed to the atmosphere or did you make a small insulating layer?

That camera was exposed to the atmosphere, mounted on top of the box containing the sensors, electronics, etc. Other cameras were mounted inside the box looking out little window cutouts, but the box itself isn’t 100% perfectly sealed.

This look really awesome! Can’t wait to see some of that footage.

How did you balloon flight go? I hope you recovered your balloon and got awesome footage.

We unfortunately lost our planned 3000g in a huge gust when it was almost finished filling. We had just enough extra helium to launch our backup 800g with our comm package and a Garmin Virb. We had to cut the GoPro rig off of the payload train. We just squeaked above the heavy clouds in Nebraska to get some footage.

We recovered both balloons - still processing data! Eclipse was amazing from Tennessee/Kentucky line. But space is a cruel place to visit! The winds were doing some weird gusts up there that were violent enough to rip our best camera from the payload box - probably lost forever :eek: It was held with VXB tape and 6 different wires but all failed. It also ripped off our side door which was put on with duct tape. All the experiments inside were bolted down. Should have bolted down the top camera in retrospect and assume the edge of space is out to get us!

Hoping to salvage some still images – looks like the other video cameras “froze out” despite each having a patch heater. Internal resistance will climb significantly in -60deg C so it can effectively stop being a battery although they will come back and thaw at nearly max electric potential (voltage).

Should post some stuff this weekend - the best thing we got is probably the reaction video of our team when the eclipse came over on the ground. Simply amazing!

We were seeing more upper level ice clouds in central Nebraska, above 30000 ft, which made predictions less reliable. At least according to the meteorologist viewing with us. He explained because of the greater inhomogeneity of humidity, particulate, etc, at that altitude that ice cloud formation is harder to model accurately.

I ended up with perfect viewing conditions in Litchfield, Nebraska, which is 45 miles NW of Grand Island. Didn’t see a cloud cross the sun’s path from the beginning to the end of the partial. I set up a tripod with my brother’s older camera for pictures. He had bought a sheet of the light filtering film and made lens covers for his camera and binoculars, and a few plates for the kids.

Unfortunately, the camera failed to save most of the pictures I took during the eclipse. Before it I had tried recording some video of the partial and I think it ate up enough memory to cause some problems. I managed to get several partial and two total pictures. Here is the small album:

Seeing it unaided was awesome. Listening to the birds, seeing Venus come out, the darkness and coolness. The time went way too fast! Definitely, I want to do it again. I enjoyed meeting so many people from across the country the last couple of days. Their excitement reminded me of FIRST. It will be interesting to see the photos/video from the balloon launches, whatever can be recovered. I figure technical mishaps just give me a good excuse to go see the next one and do better. It really was a special event that I will not forget.

Here is our video:

We had clouds pretty much until 40k ft (12km). If we had not lost our balloon, we would have flown to 20km (65k ft) at totality vs. the 12km we achieved.

One of my FIRST mentors was in Virginia, Nebraska, not very far from Beatrice. They had a fat cloud move over the sun just before totality. He said they had a good viewing with his solar telescope before then and got to see the eclipse eat up 4 sunspots. He was happy with the people there that all came and had a look through it. He’s launched balloons with the team before and he’d be tickled to know another FIRST mentor was so close by doing this. I originally planned to go there with him but decided to go with my brother. His wife teaches HS science and was so thrilled to see it.

Thank you for sharing. Very cool video.

Here is a 2 minute video which includes some footage from altitude of the eclipse and also the team losing their minds during totality!

Next flight may be a Mojave Desert flight to sample microorganisms in the middle stratosphere - more fun at the edge of space. The next total solar eclipse is July 2, 2019 - launching a balloon from Argentina could be fun!

It looks like you had a successful flight! Thanks for sharing.