Portland State University will use balloons to track eclipse

PSU will launch balloons to track eclipse

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland State University in Oregon will launch four high-altitude balloons equipped with GPS tracking systems and 360-degree video cameras during the upcoming solar eclipse.

The university said Wednesday that the balloons will allow anyone to watch a live stream online as the moon's shadow darkens a large swath of Oregon on Aug. 21.

One balloon will be a part of a larger live streaming project funded by NASA that involves 55 college and school teams throughout the U.S.

Three others are part of a PSU project.

The first balloon will reach 70,000 feet in the air, the second will reach 100,000 feet and the third will go to 130,000 feet.

Rihana Mungin, a senior mechanical engineering student, said there were a lot of challenges with creating a balloon that could withstand Earth's various atmospheric conditions.

"And [the temperature]  doesn't just drop like as you go higher, it gets colder," said senior mechanical engineering student Rihana Mungin. "There's kind of a bump. So at 65,000 feet, our balloon hits the coldest temperature it will hit and then pass 65,000 feet, it starts warming up again."

For comparison, the school says a typical airliner reaches a cruising altitude of 39,000 feet.

Mark Weislogel, a professor at the university, said the balloons will give people a different perspective of the historic event.

"You get this giant image of Earth. You get the curvature. You get the blackness of space," he said.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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