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HALE Mission.... T-9 days

Well, the HALE mission is entering the final countdown phase. I mailed off my two payloads on Friday so that they would get there in time to be integrated into the "payload stack", and the launch date has been set for 29 July... so it looks like all systems are go. I'll be posting more about my two payloads, Lil' Joe (named after Col. Joseph Kittinger) & Gypsy (named after a robot from MST3K) (pictured above), but I thought I'd give a run-down of the payloads as they now stand in case you haven't read them. It's a... very diverse, class of payloads.
  • Eugene Tsai (Taiwan): payload will use filter papers to capture particles and/or chemicals in the air during the balloon ascent and/or descent periods. The LEGO Mindstorms NXT will used to provide a mechanism to switch filtering papers to capture the materials in the air and then keep the papers in a secured compartment. The filtering papers will be retrieves and analyzed what particles and chemicals exist at different altitudes.
  • Brian Davis (USA): Gypsy (a.k.a. Nadar 2.0) will be a fully automated camera platform that taking both video and still images. The NXT will control all image timing as well as pitch angle of the platform, and datalog more than 11 different parameters at varying intervals during the flight.
  • SpaceMasters Robotics Team (Sweden). Team is lead by Jurgen Leitner and David Leal Martinez. The XGRAVLER (EXperimental GRAVity research with LEgo based Robotics) payload will be measuring the change in g-forces as a function of altitude. The plan is to have the payload repeatedly drop a tethered Wii-mote to measure the acceleration experienced at different altitudes.
  • Brian Davis (USA): Lil' Joe will perform an automated free-fall in an attempt to set the record for the longest NXT free-fall (since there hasn't been one yet, this is a pretty easy record to capture... if the parachute deploys). The payload will be detatched from the main balloon near maximum altitude and will free-fall until the NXT deploys the parachute. It will also be logging 3-axis acceleration data before, during, and after the free-fall, to be retrieved separately from the main payload stack.
  • LUXPAK (Luxembourg): This student team is mentored by Claude Baumann, Francis Massen, Jean Mootz, and Jean-Claude Krack. The payload will measure ozone-concentration, air-pressure, temperature (inside/outside), and reflected light from earth during ascent. In recognition of the 10th anniversary, LUXPAK will be using an RCX for command and control functions. See their very detailed development log for a lot more information.
  • Barbara Bratzel and Chris Rogers are leading a group of 4th grade students (USA): The students want to investigate the impact of the flight conditions on yellow marshmallows (a.k.a. peeps). The NXT will be recording temperature and pressure during the mission. Personally, I can't wait to see pictures of yellow marshmallow "Peeps" being loaded into a mission payload... I'm hoping at least one is wearing a helmet :).
  • FLL Team 90 (USA) is lead by David Levy: the payload will be measuring UV radiation as a function of altitude. The NXT will not only data log the UV sensor readings, but is also be used to manipulate filters and control the payload heater.
  • LEGO Mindstorms Team: top secret classified payload. Yeah, I wish I knew what it was as well, but they're not talking.
I'll try to do a series of posts about my payloads, as well as any of the others I can get additional information on. The programs I drew (in NXT-G) are certainly some of the most complicated yet reliable ones I've created yet... & perhaps surprisingly for all they do, not really huge on-brick (Gypsy's, for instance, is only 22k on-brick... but is generated from a 5.4Mb main file that ends up incorporating more than 8.8Mb of My Blocks). And of course I'll be blogging the mission itself as it draws closer.

--
Brian Davis

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