Toward the end of 2021, Year 11 students at Prescott College-Southern successfully flew a balloon to an altitude of 31 km over Adelaide and surrounds. Launched from Paris Creek in the Adelaide Hills, the payload (which comprised both cameras and sensors) was tracked and recovered 2.5 hours later near Strathalbyn.
The flight yielded images showing the entirety of Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula, the Fleurieu Peninsula and metropolitan Adelaide. Also, the entirety of the Coorong ranging from the Murray Mouth and Lake Alexandrina southwards to Kingston and Cape Jaffa.
The students nicknamed their flight “Operation Spaceboy.” Using the on-board sensors they were able to record altitude, air temperature, air pressure, groundspeed and GPS coordinates throughout the flight and graph each of these post-flight. A minimum temperature of -47.8 oC was reached at 14.7 km altitude. The maximum ground speed attained was 103 km/hr at 13.5 km.
They produced an AO sized poster (shown below) to summarise their flight and this is now on permanent display in their classroom. The project counted toward 50% of their second semester physics grade – comprised as it was of both SHE and deconstruct, design and investigation components. For their deconstruct and design the students chose to look at whether they could use ink-air filled ampules to print in space and the physical factors that might affect this.
This was the 5th High Altitude Balloon Flight conducted by physics students at Prescott College-Southern. All have been very successful. The students dedicated their flight to one of their classmates who died while they were all in year 7 – he had been particularly interested in science from a young age.
(zoom in using your browser to read text on the poster below)