Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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U of M students reveal results of experiments in 'near space'

Contacts: Ryan Mathre, University News Service, (612) 625-0552,
Rhonda Zurn, Institute of Technology, (612) 626-7959,

How do solar panels work in space? Can you inexpensively measure cosmic radiation? University of Minnesota students will answer these questions and share their findings from scientific experiments recently carried by a weather balloon to an altitude of more than 100,000 feet.

Students at launch

The students will reveal the results at a special Spaceflight with Ballooning Open House from 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 in the lobby and main stairwell of Akerman Hall, 110 Union St. S.E., Minneapolis. An inflated weather balloon and payload boxes will be on display. A video of the recent launch near Hinkley, Minn., will also be on display.

Students conducted the experiments as part of the class “Spaceflight with Ballooning,” a freshman seminar that challenges students to design and build mini-spacecraft and use inexpensive high-altitude helium balloons to launch them into “near-space,” the upper reaches of the atmosphere where physical properties are the same as in outer space. Since the launch, students have been analyzing data from the balloon mission.

“Conducting experiments in space has always been difficult due to the tremendous expense of rocket launches,” said James Flaten, an aerospace engineering and mechanics faculty member who teaches the class. “Students in this class gained a new appreciation for space hardware and spaceflight by designing and building their own inexpensive, functioning spacecraft and flying it to the very edge of outer space. This memorable activity took them closer to space than they’ve ever been before.”

For more information about the class, visit the website.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 22-Aug-2012 14:33:08 CDT -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation