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SHARP 2 - Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics

Page history last edited by Robert Striemer 9 years, 10 months ago



The SHARP-2 scientific payload was launched from the Elkhorn Resort near Wasagaming Manitoba on October 28th, 2011 on a 3000 gram helium filled weather balloon. The payload was recovered about 2 km southeast of MacGregor Manitoba some 3.5 hours later. The larger balloon allowed SHARP-2 to set a SHARP altitude record of 38483 metres or 126257 feet above sea level. Data obtained from the flight included altitude, latitude, longitude, wind velocity, temperature and radioactivity (see data below). Other science included experiments studying the effects of high altitude radioactivity on the dissociation of ASA and hydrogen peroxide as well as on the germination of bean seeds. Unfortunately there was a loss of data logged from the Geiger counter resulting in students having to manually make the radiation counts from the audio recorded by the video camera. The students referred to these tedious counting sessions as "beep counts". Beep counts were not only time consuming but requiring some slowing down of the audio as the rates were very high at altitude. Audigy is a free program which greatly helped in this counting process.


Another interesting feature of the SHARP-2 flight was the mechanical failure of the cutdown circuit. As a result, the balloon reached a very high altitude (planned) but upon reaching its apogee, the balloon did not cutdown and became neutrally buoyant. It maintained a nearly constant altitude for about 30 minutes. It was a very clear day and the chase vehicles had caught up to the balloon. We were very surprised to see the balloon from the ground as a distinct white sphere some 38 kilometres above and a few kilometres to the south west of Gladstone. After waiting and watching for some time in Gladstone, we decided to continue the drive back to Winnipeg. Shortly thereafter, the balloon was seen to burst by principal Wiebe who had stayed behind. Immediately we stopped receiving aprs packets from SHARP-2. We now had no idea where the payload was headed and we were thinking that the payload would likely be lost  but roughly 10 minutes later, the aprs transmitter in the payload again started transmitting packs. The chase was on. The crew continued down highway 16 to highway 1. Then we turned west and made the recovery near MacGregor. The payload hanging from its parachute crossed over the eastern end of the town but unfortunately did not take very good photos as it was in and out of cloud. The recovery was made in a farmer's field. 


SHARP-2 was not a perfect mission. Filling the larger balloon had delayed the launch. Hooking up the cutdown circuit late the previous night led to a mistake whereby the NiCr wire did not properly wrap around the balloon line resulting in no cutdown. The memory to which the Geiger counter was being logged was exceeded and we were not able to recover the data. Finally the vials of hydrogen peroxide were lost in the farm field so we were not able to complete this experiment. These problems aside, the mission was largely successful.


The Flight Data


The SHARP-2 Flight Data (Excel file)


SHARP-2 Flight in Google Earth (KMZ file)


Experimental Results (Excel workbook)



Figure 1: The SHARP-2 Flight Path



Figure 2: The SHARP-2 Flight Path Side View



The Temperature Data


SHARP-2 Payload Internal Temperatures (Excel file) 


Figure 3: Payload Internal Temperatures 


SHARP-2 External Temperatures (Excel File)


Figure 4: External Temperatures 

 The abrupt 10 degree increase in temperature around 1:30 PM is an interesting unexplained feature. 



 Near Space Bean Seed Germination Experiment

SHARP 2 Team


November 2011





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