Mission 2 The Sky

Andy Parker Relive the Mission 2 The Sky this Saturday morning. WGRZ will air a half-hour special with all the best video from the Mission 2 The Sky, and educational information about the planning, launch and recovery of the flight on Saturday, June 26th at 7:30 a.m.
The Mission 2 The Sky launched on May 25th from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The project was started by Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Andy Parker to teach children about our planet and the weather.
One of the lessons he tells students during Weather Machine presentations revolves around the idea that most weather happens way above our heads high up in the sky. Some days we can look up and watch puffy white cotton balls of cloud change shape, while on others towering dark clouds produce rain, thunderous lightning and gusty winds. Students are fascinated to discover how meteorologists measure the weather happening above our heads. With their eagerness to learn more, Andy thought it would be great if students could experience firsthand how we measure the weather up in the sky.
The Mission 2 The Sky project allowed students to help test, launch and retrieve a vehicle that traveled to the top of the atmosphere and quite literally half way to space! The flight unit carried several high resolution cameras that captured images and HD video as it traveled high into the Stratosphere over 100,000ft (20+ miles) into the sky.
As you can imagine, sending a package 20+ miles up into the atmosphere and back down again poses some large challenges. To help us out, we enlisted help from some local companies with expertise in tracking and packaging as well as some of WNY's brightest student scientists.
Much like when NASA launches a rocket, there's plenty of things that can go wrong. Mission 2 The Sky had to navigate the strong steering winds of the jet stream, battle bitter cold -50F temperatures of the Stratosphere, survive a 100,000ft (20+ mile) free fall back to Earth, and then be found.

In order to work out the kinks, Andy created several experiments to help plan the mission and teach students about the atmosphere. Feel free to download these and share them with your classroom or family.

Experiment: Flight Path - Speed and Direction

4:09 PM, May 19, 2010

Once we let go of the balloon, the helium will lift it and the wind will push it through the sky. It is important to know the speed and direction of the wind so we can predict where to find our package when it lands.

Experiment: Temperature

3:27 PM, May 19, 2010

As our balloon carries the package above the clouds, the temperature will change quite a bit. As you go up into the sky the air gets colder and our package will likely experience temperatures as cold as -50F!

Experiment: Tracking and Locating

8:31 AM, May 21, 2010

The wind could carry the balloon 150 miles from the launch site so we will be using GPS to track and locate the package along with a loud buzzer as a low tech back-up locator.

Experiment: Landing

12:03 PM, May 20, 2010

After the balloon rises 100,000+ft into the sky it will burst and the package will fall back to earth.

Click here to ask your questions and take part in the Mission 2 The Sky forum

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