On the morning of Sunday, August 19th, Girl Scout Troop 41253, with help from Raytheon engineers Megan Roberts and Dan Muthler, launched a weather balloon at Tudek Park. Raytheon provided the necessary materials for the launch and we assembled the weather balloon’s payload the Wednesday before we launched it. The entire thing was encased in a styrofoam cooler box to keep it insulated and protected. We invited the entire Service Unit to come see the launch and we had quite a few girls show up with their parents and siblings.
The payload was equipped with a raspberry pi, Pi in the Sky telemetry board, and APRS transmitter. Others items included on the payload were a letter to the finder of the box, about what it was, and who to contact if found. There was also a Dollar Store “Barbie” zip-tied to the box for science! Not really, the doll was just for fun.
The flight was projected to travel to 85,000 feet and last almost 2 hours.
After launch, we tracked the balloon using radio and the internet. We followed the trajectory it was traveling on until we lost contact with it at about 40,000 feet altitude. After not being able to regain contact with it, we headed to the Sheetz in Centre Hall to wait for it to reappear on the tracking site. We waited there for about an hour, checking to see if it showed back up, if our radio received a signal, or if someone called one of the numbers pasted on the payload.
Just as we were about to give up, we got a phone call. It was a woman in Zion who had found our weather balloon. It landed on her house and fell to the ground. She called us to say she had it and we drove there to pick it up. When we got there we found out that she was a former Girl Scout and was excited to be part of our experiment.
When we opened the box we discovered our batteries had frozen which is why we lost contact with it. If we do it again, we’ll need to keep the batteries warm so we can track it the whole way. “Barbie” came back unharmed.