Father and Son – Adventures in High Altitude Balloon Imagery
Our High Altitude Balloon (HAB) adventures continue. Using commercially available, relatively inexpensive equipment we launch and (so far) recover weather balloons, carrying a payload of HD video cameras, still cameras, data loggers, GPS and most recently HAM radio transmitters. It has been a wonderful Father and Son adventure exploring the mysteries of physics, meteorology and near space.
Our goal is to launch a capsule, capture images from the edge of space and safely return and recover the capsule. This is more difficult than it sounds, but each launch has been a wonderful adventure.
The Edge of Space
Very few people have images from the edge of space — snapshots in which a hazy blue atmosphere hugs the curve of our planet against a backdrop of the blackness beyond. But there are a growing number of us, amateurs, average people, taking regular trips deep into the stratosphere and peering out from the edge of Earth.
What is Near Space?
Near space is the region of the atmosphere above 60,000 feet but below the altitude of space; around 328,000 feet. Air pressure in near space reaches 99 to 99.9% of a vacuum. Air temperatures drop to a low of -60 degrees F or colder. Cosmic radiation is over 100 times greater than at sea level. Near space is located within the ozone layer and therefore is an environment of increased damaging ultraviolet radiation. We can reach near space by helium or hydrogen-filled weather balloons, with an attached payload, GPS, and a parachute. You can see how we do it via our DIY parts list.
JHAB-2 Flight = “A Successful Failure”.
The plan was a 2 hour flight, launched pre-dawn, to attempt to capture the sunrise, then land in Murrieta valley (30 miles from launch) — things don’t always go as planned.
Due to to a bad reading from the digital scale, we only had 3lbs of lift vs the planned 5.5 lbs of lift! This caused JHAB-2 to lift more slowly then planned, getting caught in a tree after liftoff, (bumping the GoPro HD camera to an angle) and then head out the opposite direction as planned – towards the pacific ocean!
Here is the video which chronicles her voyage and luckily her recovery!