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The Long Awaited…SGTS Imagery and Data

The sorting of many photos that would best show the result of the hard work put forward by the Grade 6 class at Countryside Village is now here.

One short, “Blair Witch-like GoPro video” to start.  WARNING…if you are not a fan of spins this may not be the video to watch.

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A wonderfully sunny, clear day for launch (Ground-level view)

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Must be getting ready to go, pictures/videos are being taken

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Moments after launch, in the background the CARE facility in Egbert, ON

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A little sideways…

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Much better @ 1500 feet

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Farmers Fields for as far as the eye can see!

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Nearing 6000 feet…that’s a long way down!

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Does anyone recognize the body of water in the background?

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The sky is darkening…as we near 10 000 feet!

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Things are a little turbulent at ~13 000 feet!

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A little closer to that body of water… HINT: 44.18479, -79.71455

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There it is again!

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We’re NOT in Egbert anymore!

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That sun is really bright today!

Moving quickly at this point (125 km/h) ... What could be helping us along so quickly?

Moving quickly at this point (125 km/h) … What could be helping us along so quickly?

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Really bright!

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Cool sun shot!

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The darkness of space from 45 000 feet!

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Yup that’s the curvature of the Earth! Just passing by Newmarket!

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~50 000 feet and climbing…

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Things are a little hazy at ~65 800 feet, moments before burst! May have added a tad too much helium to this balloon ride!  We are just NE of Vivian, ON right now!

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You can see the trees that we would land in just a couple thousand feet below

Our payloads final resting place until its recovery 2 days later! 40+ feet up in a cedar tree just North of Whitby!

Our payloads final resting place until its recovery 2 days later! 40+ feet up in a cedar tree just North of Whitby!

A look at the data acquired from the Eagle Flight Computer courtesy of Sahil, Arthika and Gurleen for their analysis.

 

The Chase and Recovery

Like any great adventure, there needs to be a chase and it all starts here just a couple minutes east of the launch site.

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Navigating our way closer and closer we could see that our payload had landed in a forest.

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As we neared the GPS coordinates we could see the forest.IMG_0760

We arrived on site to this! Hmmm…the tweets said it all!

 

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You can see our payload in the tree that looks like its growing out of the top right hand corner of the picture.  At some point while starring up into the trees, there was the idea of cutting down the tree to retrieve our package.

A visit to a local farmer/homeowner asking if we could borrow a chainsaw failed and we then returned to the house of the person whom we felt owned the forest land to tell them who we were and the situation that we were in with our HAB science project.  I did asked if they would be ok with cutting down the tree however, the farm and the trees had been in the family since they settled in the area nearly a century ago.

An alternate plan was considered, we needed to find someone who could climb the tree for us.  Many phone calls to local arborists and tree service companies were made.  I think Julie had a good laugh at our own expense because each call had me asking “Do you climb trees?”  Sometimes she could hear a laugh or odd comment come from the person on the other line.  One would assume that arborists/tree service companies would climb trees but not all do.  A few of those we spoke to about “climbing a tree” said that they would get back to us, one was Chuck Guy who said he would get back to us at some point on Friday.  It was the end of the business day so we were forced to call off the recovery of our payload.

We made a quick stop for a cold drink and a snack!  I recognized the gas station from one of my favourite TV shows “Suits”.  No selfie, but I had to make mention of this stop.

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After a short drive back to the school, I made one more call to a family member who works for the fire department in the Whitby area, the thought “firefighters climb trees sometimes” or at the very least know someone who could.  He ended up connecting us with Chuck “The Tree” Guy whom we had already spoken to.  Maybe this would be the key to our recovery.  Our other option was our office managers son, who climbs poles as a part of his job.

SGTS Launch – #csvpsHAB

Through and through it was a day full of hands-on learning, excitement and adventure, the culmination of months of work.  Today we launched our high altitude balloon with parachute and payload attached from (44 13’ 55”N 79 46’ 50” W) just to the west of Egbert, ON at the Meteorological Service of Canada Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments. (That’s a mouthful!)

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It is hard to reflect on the day in words so the majority of my look back at our day will be visual with a selection of photos and videos taken by the students in the group responsible for the visual documentation of the event.

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We are ready to go, can we board the bus already?

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On the road to Egbert, what a great day to launch a balloon!

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The gateway to our launch site, inside those doors is where it all happens…wait we didn’t kaunch a balloon indoors!

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A flat, open area, facing south, unobstructed by anything that would have interfered with our launch.IMG_4892

Lacey was getting use to hanging out upside down.

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Preparations of the launch area.  Getting everything organized and ready was key to a successful, efficient launch.

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The helium needed to be brought down to the launch site from the garage within the CARE facility.  The was a question asked of us whether or not we wanted to inflate the balloon indoors out of the wind.  A the students had watched int he many youtube video on HABing most launches occur outside.  So we proceeded to setup to inflate outside the building.

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Lloyd resident meteorologist working for NAVCAN was checking out the contents of our payload.  I must say he was quite impressed with what we decided to send up with our balloon.  Well done team!  The research paid off.

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Getting all of the technology up and running was challenging when looking for LED indicators to show in full sun.

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The final additional of Lacey and her wooden plank.

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Our friends Lloyd, Bernard and Liisa discussing how nice it was to get out of the offices/labs and outside to join in on the fun of our balloon launch.

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Test launch of a party balloon to gather an idea of which way the wind would blow our balloon on launch.

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The payload and parachute all strung out read to be attached to the balloon once it was ready and inflated.

The videos below cover the efforts of the students, ourselves and the experts for the CARE facility as we near launch.  At this point we are T-minus under an hour.

Recorded by Ryan N.

Periscope feed by Mrs. Simons

Following our successful launch of our high altitude balloon, we headed inside the office/lab building to grab a quick snack and had a great discussion about all things science that occur at the launch site with our experts Lloyd, Bernard and Liisa.  Students then had the opportunity to have a tour around the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments.

The tour of of the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments featuring Liisa Jantunen, Bernard Franski, Lloyd Barnaby, Nick Spayda (IMPROVE Network) and Kulbir Banwait.

Meanwhile, Julie (Miss Harper) and I headed off on the chase of our balloon.

The SGTS High Altitude Balloon takes flight today…

I must admit that I should have checked off the list, “sleep” but knowing that today was our launch sleep was not happening as it should have.  That being said I am here at school, knowing that we are ready to roll out shortly after the kids arrive at school, attendance is taken and the bus is reloaded.

This mornings prediction for the flight path…NOT what was seen last night…landing further south and east.  It is obvious that forecasted winds have picked up.

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The kids should be here momentarily…We a T-minus 2 hours!

T-minus less than a week

With less than a week to our launch of Countryside’s first HAB (High Altitude Balloon) and everything ready to go there is only one thing to do, run predictions for the flight of our balloon.  Some may ask why we might do this but the answer is quite simple, weather forecasts which include forecasted wind strength and direction change daily if not more frequently and in Southern Ontario where there are many unfavourable landing sites knowing where our payload would land is key to the success of our project.

Predictions in the days leading up to our launch, shown below were prediction landfall to be a little wet which given that our payload consisted mostly of electronics was NOT in our favour.

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With 24 hours notice needed to cancel our buses, Thursday the 21st at around 9am would be the last time we would run a prediction for our launch.  This prediction would dictate whether we would launch on our first planned date.

Unfortunately, this was what we saw with that prediction.

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Calls were made, buses were cancelled, those in Egbert were notified of our postponed launch and a new date was set.  Launch day #2 was set, Thursday the 28th of 2015 would be our new 1st attempt at launching a high altitude weather balloon.

Predictions for the 28th…looking good!

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Site Identified and Requests for Permission to Launch Initiated

The site @ (44 13’ 55”N 79 46’ 50” W) just to the west of Egbert, ON.

 

A few emails written to York University and the department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering put us in contact with Regina Lee, Arthur Lin and Robert McLaren.  Follow up emails went out to Robert and Andrew Sheppard, Stewart Cober and Liisa Jantunen of Environment Canada at the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments and within a few hours of emails bouncing around we had approval to launch from Egbert and helium to fill our balloon.

 

The Search for a Launch Site

The denial of our request left us searching for a new site to launch from.  So, what would make a suitable site?  Most of the students shared that we needed a space that was;

  • free from obstructions (buildings, power-lines, trees or anything that our balloon and payload system could get caught up in),
  • would leave us landing in a favourable location (preferably land based)
  • was located outside the 26NM (Nautical Mile) zone around Pearson International Airport which is the first map below is the outer most ring around Pearson.  The second map shows the major flight corridors in and out of Pearson.

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Armed with Canadian Atlases the students scoured maps of Southern Ontario for sites approximately 1 hours distance away from our school and YYZ.  Numerous sites we identified by the students (our Crew) most falling north and west of our school and well outside the 26NM zone.  Those that I recall the students suggesting were; a community centre in Palmerston, ON., Minto, ON., and Walkerton, ON.

While the students were hard at work, Ms. Harper and I followed up on the previous launch site request that had be denied where it had been suggested by NAVCAN’s AERONAUTICAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT team that we consider a launch location often used by a group from York University located at a place called Egbert just outside of Barrie.

Not knowing all of the details about this launch site in Barrie we asked for further information from those at NAVCAN about the site, and those who had previously used it to launch HAB’s. After an email circulated amongst several members at NAVCAN offices we had the location of the York University launches (44 13’ 55”N 79 46’ 50” W)

Next up, gaining permission to launch from this site.  Time to send a few emails to York University and the department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering to see who we would need to speak with in regards to gaining permission to launch from this site in Egbert, ON because from the looks of the image below, it’s not exactly a field we can just show up at, setup and launch our balloon from.

Countryside Launch Pad

We have filed with NAVCAN our launch details and plan to use the back field of Countryside Village Public School as the site for our #spaceinquiry high altitude balloon launch.

Details in summary,

We plan to launch a HAB (high altitude balloon) between the dates of May 12th and May 15th.  The 800gram balloon will be 150 cm at release from Countryside Village Public School at 43.776667N / -79.785W and consist of a payload system length ~20 ft on ascent and a payload weight of ~1.4kg that will rise at a rate of 950fpm (feet per minute).  The expected burst altitude is above 90, 000 ft and the balloon is expected to be near 22 feet in diameter upon burst.  The payload will descend below a neon orange/green 3ft parachute about about 60km Northwest of the Launch site.

Hangout with CSVPS 6s and Laura Dawkins

This past week we returned back to school after a much needed break and we prepared for an important meeting with PhD Student Laura Dawkins from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter.

Today was the day, after a few test “hangouts” we were ready  to chat live with Laura.  The class was excited, the laptop was setup and linked through our Apple TV to the projector.  I put the call through to Laura across the pond in the UK where she took time out of her evening to chat with us about launching a balloon into near-space.

Despite all efforts to ensure an issue free chat, we had choppy video and audio.  Of course, had I not run a few test there would not have been issues.  We kept the connection live and began troubleshooting.  First, was to play with audio and video quality, it was possible that we were maxing out our bandwidth though I couldn’t believe so.  Without repair, I went on to the WiFi connection to the Apple TV and dropped our link to the big visual.  With that our connection instantly improved.  Next time, hard wire the laptop and leave the wireless connection for the Apple TV.

As Julie put it in her blog entry (https://sendgeorgetospace.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/our-live-chat/)

“During the chat our students had the opportunity to ask all of their questions, and more.  They spoke professionally and thoughtfully about their topics.  Laura was a great resource and we were so grateful for the time she took to speak with us.”

The group was engaged and attentive, ready for more.  The conversation went on and on.  The kids asked their questions, Laura responded sharing her experience and insight for our students and their project.  I must say that I was afraid that the conversation would end up feeling very scripted because we had prepared ourselves with questions.  But that was not the case and the conversation felt quite fluid with the students interjecting with questions not prepped because the discussion opened itself to their curiosities about the launching of weather balloons and space.

Here is our chat…

After a nearly 40 minute conversation, we had many of the answers we sought to the questions we were asking.  The chat also confirmed much of the initial research we had been conducting about the materials we would need and the knowledge that it would take to accomplish the task of launching a balloon into near-space.

Thank you, Miss Harper and Grade Sixes for let me be a part of your class and leading you down this path of exploration.

Thank you, Laura for taking time out of your personal time to chat with a group of students from Canada

And we are back…

More from our inquiry about space…

Students arrived back today after a week off on March Break.  Over the break, aside from recouping from a long winter stretch through January and February, the Grade 6 students from Ms. Harper’s class were tasked with two responsibilities;

1. to blog about what they have learned and focus their inquiry time on, and,

2. to come up with a few questions they would want to ask our guest #DIYspace “expert” about launching a weather balloon.

We are back and the blog entries have been made by “The Crew” which for many was their first.  For the audience out there that might read some of the entries, please share your advice about writing blogs to the students as they will have several more entries about their work leading up to the launch.

On Wednesday the 25th our “Crew” will chat with PhD student Laura Dawkins of the University of Exeter who earlier this month launched a weather balloon into the atmosphere.  (http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/exeterblog/blog/2015/03/06/sending-a-balloon-into-space/) The students arrived back each with a few questions they wil ask of Laura and hope will allow them to gather information that will support the design and build phase of our project

Stayed tuned for more following our Hangout with Laura.

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