FOX 12: PSU students begin collecting data from NASA eclipse balloon project
Author: Kelsey Watts, FOX 12 Oregon
Posted: August 23, 2017

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Engineering students from Portland State University are back on campus after launching high altitude weather balloons for the eclipse.

The students sent up five balloons from Corvallis starting very early Monday morning. One of them was for a project funded by NASA involving 55 campuses across the country, while the others were for a senior capstone project.

The results were pretty incredible, and the students are just starting to gather the images and pour over the data they collected.

Each balloon was outfitted with a payload at the bottom made from 3-D printed materials and carrying three cameras, GPS trackers and battery packs.

They were released at different times Monday morning to get perspectives from different altitudes, ranging from 60,000 to 130,000 feet.

PSU Engineering Student Rihana Mungin has been working on this project off and on for more than a year, and really in earnest for the last six months.

She told FOX 12 seeing it come to fruition Monday was an incredible and emotional experience.

“You’re building up to this day and you literally let your project go, and you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what the result is going to be, you just let it go,” Mungin said.

One of the more difficult parts of this project is just getting the balloons back. One of them landed in a dense forest in the coast range, where students had to figure out how to get the payload out of a tree.

Unfortunately, data from one of the five balloons will never be recovered since it went off course and landed in the ocean. Nevertheless, what these students are learning from the other four really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.