Hanover High School students to collect eclipse data for NASA

Local teenagers are getting an out-of-this-world experience in a unique collaboration with NASA and the National Science Foundation.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 5:22 AM EDT
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HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - A group of Upper Valley teens are getting an out-of-this-world experience in a unique collaboration with NASA and the National Science Foundation.

Hanover High School is one of five schools in the country participating in NASA’s National Eclipse Ballooning Project.

They’re creating balloon systems to stream video and give NASA data about the annular eclipse in October and the total solar eclipse next April.

“Really an opportunity to help scientists collect data and really push the needle forward in science scientific advancement,” Hanover High School junior Kavi Patel said.

After an application process, Hanover is one of five schools in the country helping NASA observe the next eclipse.

“All the students are assembling, learning how to solder, learning those skills, making the software, programming their software, and then testing and launching a balloon,” said Kevin Lavigne, a Hanover High School science teacher who’s co-leading the initiative.

Right now, students are following modules from NASA and constructing the element that stays on the ground that does the data collecting.

“We’re trying to build the different components of the blue and we’re gonna be setting up but also we’re gonna be adding some things of our own sensors that we can add,” said junior Sam Calderwood.

They have eight practice balloons to give it a try. The goal is to do the first rehearsal in June, and then again in October and April.

“If all works well, we’ll be streaming back data. So, we’ll have however long we’re in the clips will have that data of the sun and the total eclipse and we’ll send that off to NASA,” said Lavigne.

The balloon will be sent more than 100,000 feet into the atmosphere.

“I’m interested in seeing actually go up but I’m just actually just kind of curious on looking at it and close. I have never seen it before. So really fun,” said sophomore Taehan Kim.

NASA uses the data for observing on-site motions in the atmosphere.

Hanover is also going to seize the opportunity and conduct experiments of their own, too.

“It could be anything, right? It could be like collecting radiation data on food, we could send up an apple and look at the radiation effects of the upper atmosphere,” said Lavigne.

It’s a lot of time and work but students say it will be worth it.

“Coming up to just seeing the balloon float up to the sky and seeing the data though and live time and seeing the video feed. I think it’s gonna be a truly magical and special moment,” said Patel.

The team will head to Texas for the first mission in October, and for the total solar eclipse next April, the team will be right here in Burlington.

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