NASA Is Sending Massive Balloons To Livestream Total Solar Eclipse

Posted: Aug 18 2017, 12:04pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA is Sending Massive Balloons to Livestream Total Solar Eclipse
Credit: NASA
 

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More than 50 high-altitude balloons launched by NASA and student teams across the U.S. will stream live video of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse from the edge of space

As the epic total solar eclipse approaches, NASA is preparing to attempt one of most unique and extensive solar eclipse observations ever.

NASA's Eclipse Balloon Project, led by Angela Des Jardins of Montana State University, will send a number of helium-filled balloons into the sky. These balloons are equipped with 360-degree video cameras which will allow anyone to watch a live stream online as the moon completely blocks the sunlight on Aug. 21.

“Total solar eclipses are rare and awe-inspiring events. Nobody has ever live-streamed aerial video footage of a total solar eclipse before," said Angela Des Jardins. "By live-streaming it on the Internet, we are providing people across the world an opportunity to experience the eclipse in a unique way, even if they are not able to see the eclipse directly."

For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire continental United States on Monday, next week. While everyone in the region will get the chance to see at least part of solar eclipse, NASA is hoping to provide people views from a unique position.

More than 50 balloons will reach the height of around 100,000 feet when the eclipse begins. The fleet of balloons will be released from 30 locations across the total eclipse path and camera payload will provide near real time footage of moon’s shadow darkening the Earth. The project officially includes students of 55 college and schools throughout the U.S

“Video and images of a total eclipse from near space are fascinating and rare. It’s never been done live and certainly not in a network of coverage across a continent.” Eclipse Ballooning Project website reads.

Beyond the opportunity for a unique view, the project will help researchers to understand the phenomenon more clearly as well as to conduct scientific experiments. Almost half of these balloons will carry small samples of harmless yet extremely resilient bacteria and simulate life's ability to survive beyond Earth, in Mars-like environment.

"The August solar eclipse gives us a rare opportunity to study the stratosphere when it's even more Mars-like than usual," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "With student teams flying balloon payloads from dozens of points along the path of totality, we will study effects on microorganisms that are coming along for the ride.

“This project will not only provide insight into how bacterial life responds to Mars-like conditions, we are engaging and inspiring the next generation of scientists.”

The images and videos of solar eclipse will be released in almost real time but it may take months before we see the first results of bacteria experiment.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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