SPSP 2022: Mission to the stratosphere

by Joan Mauri, Robotics and Design teacher

This year we have proven again that we can also launch a Space Programme at St. Peter’s School, with the collaboration of a group of motivated students in Year 10, 5 and 4; highly professional support from the company NTT DATA, and our Robotics & AI teacher, Mr. Mauri. 

The challenge was to design and launch a HAB (High Altitude Balloon), expected to fly for 90 minutes, traveling a horizontal distance of 35 km and reaching an altitude of 30.000 m, right into the stratosphere.

The team needed a broad knowledge of mechanics and electronics, including Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Additionally, they needed knowledge of electronic hardware with cameras and GPS (coordination, communication), and scientific experiments that were to be included in the thermal box that would be attached to the balloon and to a parachute.

It looked like a complex challenge at the beginning. However, with the enthusiasm and hard work of everyone involved, the balloon was launched and retrieved successfully. You can watch the video of our adventure:

All the hardware collected a wide range of data from a set of experiments contained inside the thermal box. The box eventually landed and our student team collected it after identifying the exact place it hit the ground.

In regards to the comparison of the results from last year and this year we have observed the following differences:

See how this year the highest altitude is slightly lower than last year. Some students suggested this was due to the high temperatures. The truth is the difference is not due to the temperature but to the size of the balloon. The smaller the balloon the less able it is to expand as described by its formula but the space journey became shorter and easier to retrieve. What is the next step for next year? Stay tuned for new surprises.