Working together for amazing space project at Bourne Grammar School

Alex Williams releases the balloon

Alex Williams releases the balloon

  • Team launched helium balloon into space to record images of earth
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A group of budding computer scientists and systems and control engineers from Bourne Grammar School launched a helium balloon 26km into the air to capture incredible images of the earth.

A group of budding computer scientists and systems and control engineers from Bourne Grammar School launched a helium balloon 26km into the air to capture incredible images of the earth.

Students from across all year groups worked together to apply their knowledge to fulfil this ambitious challenge.

The balloon’s payload contained a computer with a camera, transmitters, a GPS module and temperature sensor – all powered by AA batteries.

The unit transmitted data every few seconds to the ground team. A parachute attached to it ensured a gentle descent after the flight, in which the balloon reached an altitude of 26,056m before bursting, landing a few kilometres from Manea in Cambridgeshire.

On launch day, the systems engineer team of Iyanu Abioye, Sohayl Tobaria, Marco Lytle and Wojciech Marek held the balloon whilst it was being filled, added the cable ties and cut the balloon from the helium tank.

Alex recovers the payload.

Alex recovers the payload.

The computer science team, consisting of Andrew Ellingford, Jacob Wilson, Fabio Valerio and Josiah Gyamfi, had the job of programming two computers so that data could be sent and received from space.

On the ground, the school minibus was fitted with magnetic radio aerials. The first was connected to a walkie-talkie radio, which was tuned to the frequency of one of the transmitters on the balloon.

The sound from the walkie-talkie was picked up by the microphone on an Android tablet which decoded the squeals from the radio as GPS coordinates.

The second aerial was connected to a computer inside the minibus, which received the data signals. As well as GPS and temperature data, this signal included image data which was also uploaded to the web.

After a seven hour chase and a 40 minutes walk the remains of the balloon and a fully working payload were found in the middle of a field, surrounded by bewildered cows

Students Alex Williams, Ben Rockliffe, Alex Wray and Luc Schoutsen were assigned as part of the chase team. It was their job to track the flight of the balloon using the GPS and radio technology on board.

Back at school the flight analyst team, Holly Brown and Toby Pawlett, were able to see the data from the balloon and see an extrapolated flight-plan which predicted where the balloon would eventually land. By calling the chase team on a regular basis, they were able to guide them to the final landing site.

After a seven hour chase and a 40 minutes walk the remains of the balloon and a fully working payload were found in the middle of a field, surrounded by bewildered cows.

The equipment was provided as part of the Raspberry Pi foundation’s “Skycademy” programme, which aims to promote computer science across the UK.

For more information about Bourne Grammar School visit www.bourne-grammar.lincs.sch.uk

More pictures in Tuesday’s Lincolnshire Free Press

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