COC Students Prep for Second NASA Scientific Balloon Launch

by | Jul 27, 2017 | Community

For the second year in a row, the College of the Canyons Astronomy & Physics Club has been selected to participate in NASA’s High Altitude Student Platform (HASP), a scientific balloon.
College of the Canyons is the only community college participating in this year’s HASP program, and is one of only five community colleges ever chosen to participate in the program’s 11-year history. COC also holds the distinction of being the only community college selected to participate for a second time.
The HASP program is jointly run by Louisiana State University and the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility.
The group of 12 COC students will be improving upon last year’s prototype designed to collect cosmic dust particles in the upper stratosphere, which experienced some in-flight and post-flight challenges.
“Our designs are more advanced than last year, but our goal is the same,” said Teresa Ciardi, a physical science professor at the college. “I am super excited to be working with the student team again this year.”
Ciardi and Greg Poteat, an adjunct manufacturing instructor, are reprising their roles as co-advisors on the project, providing the team with guidance and support.
“These students are getting graduate student level project experience at the community college level,” said Ciardi. “They are getting real skills that will help them as they move forward in their education and careers.”
Through funding provided by the College of the Canyons Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT), a seven-person team will travel to Palestine, TX on July 30 for testing and device integration at NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility.
Led by COC student Daniel Tikhomirov, the team will be completing various stages of testing followed by integration onto the main platform, and acquiring pre-flight data before returning home on August 6.
“The goal for the new improvements in the design is better functionality while preserving reliability and simplicity,” said Tikhomirov. “The entire structure of the experiment has been revamped to be more robust and handle the shocks of landing. The dust collector instrument has been significantly improved to be more efficient and collect more particles during flight.”
When the final payload launches in late August or early September from New Mexico, a camera will be attached to the science balloon, which will allow the team to view the launch and the scene from above during the flight on the NASA HASP webpage. 

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