After the balloon rises 100,000+ft into the sky it will burst and the package will fall back to earth. If we let it fall, the package would crash into the ground at full speed and our equipment would break! We will use a parachute and padding to slow it down and cushion the equipment.
Some of our equipment is fragile and if not protected will crack and break much like an egg. If we want to get the equipment back safely, we will have to determine what the best way to cushion the equipment is. We will be using a parachute to slow us down, so the impact will be similar to dropping an egg from 10ft or near the ceiling which is about 17mph.
You can download a printable copy of this experiment by clicking on a the link(s) on the right hand section of this page.
After the very long trip back to Earth the flight unit could end up hanging from a tree, out in a lake, at the top of a hill or crashed against rocks. We took our landing idea over to Armstrong Brands in West Seneca. They guys at Armstrong specialize in Styrofoam and they had just the container to help us make it a safe trip.
In order to be prepared for any type of landing, we chose to use a 2" thick Styrofoam container for extra padding. The container is about the size of a small cooler and will survive a rough impact as well as float on water!
We met with Armstrong engineers in their West Seneca offices along with packaging specialists from an aerospace & defense company called MOOG and designed a flight unit that will hold all our gear complete with special darkened conical holes for the cameras. Our container turned out to be lightweight and very strong and best of all it can be recycled when we are done!
Here's some neat facts about Styrofoam:
Safe & Healthy Throughout Its Life Cycle
• Made of 98% air, EPS is an inert material without harmful chemicals that off-gas or leach during its use or disposal.
• EPS is widely recognized as a safe choice for use in food contact packaging by government regulatory agencies throughout the world.
Meets Performance & Cost Market Criteria
• Because of its versatility EPS offers significant savings in design and development, product assembly and distribution costs.
• With customized packaging designs EPS delivers exactly the right amount of product protection. Its high tensile strength and cellular structure give this lightweight product exceptional cushioning properties.
Maximizes Renewable or Recycled Source Materials
• Recycled EPS is used in both closed-loop and open-loop processes to make a variety of applications from recycled-content foam packaging to durable goods and innovative new building products.
• In 2006 more than 52% of all EPS collected for recycling was used to make recycled-content packaging.
Uses Clean Production Technologies & Best Practices
• Innovations in manufacturing technologies ensure EPS production minimizes energy consumption with mold cavities that cool quickly and manufacturing processes that recycle water and recapture air emissions.
• Many EPS manufacturers are ISO certified.
Physically Designed to Optimize Energy & Materials
• EPS feedstock is converted into a finished product 32 times its original volume-virtually turning air into a strong and efficient packaging material.
• If all EPS packaging were replaced with corrugated cardboard, paper, wood, molded fiber etc., compared with current figures raw material requirements would rise to 560%, power consumption to 215% and the landfill volume to 150%.