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Old 10-28-2008, 10:00 AM   #31
Lunar_Lander
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Default Experiment classes

I thought some more and now I think it would be good to put the experiments in some classes, regarding their size.

I would say there should be three of them:

Small Class: Small experiments which can be put on the platform or are passive "hitch-hike" experiments on-board.
Medium Class: Experiments of average size which can be carried inside the capsule or at the outside (they are probably too big for the platform, but can get their own mounting)
Big Class: Experiments which have certain power requirements or need special connections through the cabin wall.

At the moment, we have experiments which can stand as examples for all three classes:
For the small class there are the KCLO4 hammer experiment and the camera system by AstroCam.
For the medium class there would be the particle detectors, the Rubens Tube by RisingFury as well as the RE/MAX experiments.
For the big class would there would be the apparatus for measuring the electrical properties of the atmosphere and the telescope.

What do you think about this classification?
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Old 11-07-2008, 01:08 PM   #32
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Default What can you do with a telescope?

Hi ,

today I would like to talk about the telescope which is going to be on board. What do you think would be the best selection for a flight telescope? Which type would be best?

I would say that the telescope would be mounted like on Manhigh II: The tube pointing downward outside of the cabin (while being tangential to the cabin's equator) and having a mirror below the lens which can be moved in two axes.

What applications would the scope then have? On Manhigh, it was decided to observe the Moon, double stars, the color of the stars, and the planets, if any were in the FOV.
I would expand the scope with a sun filter, to look at the sun and to possibly get a glimpse of Mercury.

What are your ideas?
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Old 11-29-2008, 10:56 AM   #33
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Default Experiment Platform Ideas

Hi ,

after some absence here I thought that there could be an interesting source of experiments for the experiment platform in the CASSY (Computer Assisted Science System). This is some kind of data logger with different sensors, which can be hooked to a PC and then displays the data there.

The manual features a LOT of experiments possible with it. You can find it here: http://www.leybold-didactic.com/software/?cassy-s.html (click on "Manual" next to the English flag)

Are there some experiments which might be worth to take on the trip?
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Old 12-26-2008, 06:43 PM   #34
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Merry Christmas !

For everybody who has not got one as yet, here you can download my XAP texts:

http://www.mediafire.com/?y4lgft8dwzh
http://www.mediafire.com/?5thzeo6oj8z
http://www.mediafire.com/?uiukznmnerk


And here is the all new, just finished fourth text : http://www.mediafire.com/?zmm4mmoyxdy

Feedback is welcomed!
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Old 08-26-2009, 04:47 PM   #35
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Default Update: Project Vortex

Yep, after more than a half year, it is time for an update. XAP still looks for major sponsors, while I began a small tropospheric scientific gas balloon project called Project Vortex. I found a local balloon pilot who would take me up in his balloon for 1000 Euros per flight (more detail on that later), which is quite cheap for a science project in my opinion.

First a bit of history: I studied much material on thr tropospheric scientific flights. Most of the information I have is about the flights of James Glaisher in the UK in 1862-66, with some more info about French flights from 1804 (by Gay-Lussac), 1850 (Barral and Bixio) and from 1870-78 (Tissandier brothers and others).

Another German book from 1900 that I own, discusses all these flights, and also 75 flights made in Germany in the time span 1888-99. This research later continued until 1934.

During reading this book and especially the description and the criticism on Glaisher's flights, I thought about the fact that nowadays there are only unmanned research balloons that ascend well into the stratosphere. I then thought that it might be worth it to try and conduct an ascent with a standard gas balloon, taking modern versions of the instruments that had been taken up by Glaisher and others. So I contacted a gas balloon pilot, and he said that a flight in his 650m3 balloon would cost 800 USD (560 Euros), and one in his 1050m3 balloon would be 1400 USD (1000 Euros), when he and I would be the only persons in the balloon. I thought that it would be a really cheap price for a science project and started designing a scientific program for the flights (I still hope to find a sponsor, who is maybe willing to pay several flights, maybe up to five of them. I'll explain the reasons for that later).

My program is based mostly on what had been done by Glaisher and the other balloonists, with some additions of Barral and Bixio's program.
First in the list are the four normal meteorological measurements:
  1. Barometric Pressure
  2. Temperature of the Air
  3. Humidity of the Air
  4. Direction and Velocity of the wind
All these had been measured in the past with instruments containing mercury, which always had been a danger to the balloon crew and environment. Thus I still don't know whether to take a mercurial barometer or rather an electronic pressure sensor. As for the temperature and humidity, I would use the installation introducted on the German flights: Two timber bars support an aspirated psychrometer to hang 1.6 meters away from the basket. This and the aspiration would eliminate solar heating and would give the true numbers for temperature and humidity. (Glaisher had put all of his apparatus on a board which he placed across the basket, where the board then obviously was heated by the sun, influencing all of his thermometers)
I would double check the observations with an electrical thermometer, also aspirated, and humidity with a stock building store hygrometer, because then you could compare the performance of the two methods (in my tests I have run, I found the hygrometer to be up to 10% off from that what the psychrometer said).
The wind could be easily determined from the velocity and direction of the balloon, as the balloon moves as fast as the wind. Only that I would use GPS instead of navigational fixes, which might not be available at all, if there are clouds obscuring the Earth.

Next up are electrical and magnetic measurements, for which I would take either an electrometer with a long metal wire suspended from it (as it was done "back then"), or a modern electrofieldmeter. For the magnetic measurements I would use a Hall-Probe or observe the duration of several oscillations of a magnetic needle. You see again, that this would be a perfect opportunity to "Cross-Check" the "old" and the "new" method, but I would say that the apparatus you need for that work is a bit bulky and heavy, so it might be only possible to take the new instruments (which I would prefer as some kind of "Standard").

Then, there is the measurement of the incoming solar radiation. Here I would like to repeat an experiment Barral and Bixio did: They mounted three identical thermometers on a polished metal board. Then they coated the bulb of one of the thermometers with silver, and blackened the bulb of the third thermometer, and left the second unchanged. Unfortunately the blackened bulb thermometer broke during launch, leaving them only with the normal and the silver thermometer. In addition to this I would take an actinometer or a similar electronic device. (To come back to Glaisher: From the second year of his work on, he had an actinometer on-board, and also a blackened-bulb thermometer on one flight. It was astonishing for him to find that the difference between the blackened and the normal dry thermometer was zero all the time, whereas the actinometer showed a significant solar input. Also an error that was induced by is observation board)

I also would like to follow Glaisher by taking up a spectroscope and pointing it at the sky, Earth and the sun. I have found instructions on how to build a spectroscope with employing a CD, maybe I will make one of these or lend myself a spectroscope from my school (they already said that I may use some of the apparatus they have).

To conclude the physical experiments, there is the VLF-3 receiver from the Inspire Inc. (www.theinspireproject.org) group, who have shown interest in measuring VLF waves from a free flying balloon. Also, I would like to take an instrument to measure incoming particle radiation, a Geiger Counter for example.

These would be all physical experiments. I have thought about an Aitken dust counter, a balloon gas thermometer or a luxmeter, but I don't want to stretch the program too far. Maybe these two are good for a later flight.

Then I have some chemical experiments. First up is the collection of air samples at different altitudes, where I hope that I could have them analyzed at the University here (for which I have to ask). Then an apparatus to determine CO2 gravimetrically (by aspirating air through tubes filled with KOH and weighing them before and after. Finally Ozone measurements both with air analysis tubes calibrated for O3 and ozone papers like Glaisher had used them (starch papers coated with KI solution).

Finally I would like to do some biological measurements, though I think that I would need professional assistance for that. I think about having a bacteria collector of some kind (either on-board like it was done in Munich in 1904 or one that is dropped on a parachute like on the Explorer II in 1935), and maybe some plant samples and insects to study the influences the flight had on them.

These would be my experimental program. As for the statement that I would like to do more then one flight: I think that several flights would have the advantage to gather more data, and to build Flight 2 on the experiences of Flight 1 (which could be improving or even omitting experiments which were too awkward to handle, etc.)
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Old 09-02-2009, 07:07 PM   #36
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New Project Website is now open too: http://projectvortex.weebly.com/index.html
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:29 AM   #37
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Hey people,

thank you so much for the participation in XAP! Donald Piccard told me that he decided to step down from XAP, as his multi-cell sport balloon project "N6US" is quite demanding at the moment. The first of these balloon systems is 87.5 % complete and will fly in Brazil.

Thanks again and hope you are interested in N6US and Project Vortex,

Kevin
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Old 10-11-2009, 10:22 AM   #38
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XAP canceled or just postponed?
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:16 AM   #39
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The websites are shut down for the moment, and N6US will be completed first. When that shows that the concept of the tetroons and the multi-balloon cluster works, maybe we finally get somebody who brings up the money for XAP.
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:20 AM   #40
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I hope it works and Don gets the funding.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:21 PM   #41
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I hope so too, it would be sad to see XAP going down!

Currently I try to get some of the professors together for some kind of Ballooning Council, just like Glaisher had one (with people like Brewster, Herschel, Tyndall and others).
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Old 10-16-2009, 04:25 PM   #42
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I suppose manned ballooning is out of fassion, given that even students now send balloons high up into the sky and all the "major" things have been measured...
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Old 10-16-2009, 06:41 PM   #43
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You know, back in the 1920s or so (earlier?) we thought all the major physics discoveries had been made, but we were sorely mistaken. Never use the excuse "all the major things have been discovered" as a reason for ceasing research.
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:08 AM   #44
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I'd say so too. Up to now, there are only radiosondes available commercially which measure the meteorological elements, ozone and radiation. Many of the other tasks are not done by means of them.

The student balloons have up to now also only been flights of temperature sensors and automatic cameras (which is a great performance, no doubt!). In the big balloon we could have laboratory size instruments, not just miniatures of them.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:23 PM   #45
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Some News:

My website is now refurbished with some new content, and I got my recording of the interview we did at the radio station of the university!

Listen to it here: http://www.mediafire.com/?my2gddu0nhy
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