Duke University students launch weather balloons into space

Photo from Duke University.

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A group of Duke University engineering students are taking their skills to new heights.  Twelve students successfully launched two weather balloons into space, each containing equipment they designed and built themselves.

The goal of the project was to collect weather data from high altitudes while learning to work as a team.  The group was divided into several subgroups, all responsible for a different part of the project.

One of the balloons traveled to 120,000 feet before popping, causing the equipment attached to fall back to the surface of the earth.  The other popped just below 100,000 feet.  These balloons captured and recorded weather data as they ascended, like temperature, pressure and ambient light as well as ozone levels.

Both weather balloons were launched from a site in Hillsborough and traveled more than 100 miles east, landing just outside of Rocky Mount.  The payloads attached to both balloons were successfully recovered and the analysis of the data recorded is ongoing.

The students are eager to share their findings once the analysis of the data is complete.  Joshua Furth, a sophomore student working on the project says they have already set up a website and want to publish their findings as open source material, meaning anyone with interest can look at the project and outcomes for their own future research.

These future engineers are hoping for the opportunity to launch even more weather balloons and to continue their research efforts.

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