High Tech High Atmospheric Balloon Sampler – UC San Diego 2010
Professional Reference: Mark Thiemens, Dean, Division of Physical Sciences
(858) 534-6053, mthiemens@ucsd.edu

       The cost of sending a small rocket to sample atmospheric gases ranges in the thousands of dollars so to address this issue I wrote a proposal for a balloon instrument that collects CO­2 samples from the stratosphere and presented it to Dr. Mark Thiemens, Dean of Biochemistry/Chemistry, at UCSD. He was very supportive and encouraged me to work with the high school students and become involved in the community. I worked with the high school High Tech High and engineering teacher David Berggren to organize the project into teams. The teams consisted of Mechanical, Electrical, Flight, Landing, Tracking and a Documentary group. The student engineers constucted a helium filled weather balloon attached to an automated gas sampler that measures pressure through a barometer and signals the proper pressure and altitude at which to take in atmospheric gasses. When the balloon reaches 32,000 kilometers, it will pop and our device will land in the desert and will be picked up using a GPS transmitter onboard.
The project concluded with a community presentation of the student’s work separated into panels of teams. The students presented what they had learned from this experience of working in groups and contributing to a larger product just as a company might in the private sector. One important lesson learned was to hit deadlines before they are due. This project dealt with the challenges of fitting project time within a school’s normal schedule and the device was not completely finished. However the wisdom gained from this balloon sampler may be the greater product of this experience and we look forward to more excellent projects from this amazing group of students.

Payload Team

Control Systems Team

Balloon Tracking Team

Sample Collection Team

Landing team