Mercer Island Reporter


Seniors launch balloon into space for astronomy project

By MAKENA OWENS Mercer Island Reporter Contributor
June 11, 2013 · 3:33 PM

Itai Amon, a senior at Northwest Yeshiva High School, prepares to launch a 6-foot balloon into space with two other students and their astronomy teacher on Sunday, June 9, in Moses Lake, Wash. / Contributed Photo

What do you get when you combine a Wal-Mart lunchbox, a radar reflector, a parachute, and a giant, six-foot balloon? This unusual list of materials was collected and assembled into a device used to collect atmospheric data by three seniors at Northwest Yeshiva High School.

Itai Amon, Shawn Sobel and Shaina Stone set out to Moses Lake on Sunday, June 9, with their astronomy teacher, Peter Brodkin, to collect evidence of the earth’s curvature and to study the relationship between humidity, temperature and altitude.

The balloon rose to 101,680 feet (about 20 miles), stretching to 30 feet in diameter at maximum altitude. Its temperature dropped from the initial 82 degrees on earth to a chilly -48 degrees in space, and the device was also able to record a humidity level of just 1 percent.

The students tracked the balloon’s location using a GPS system attached to the apparatus. They recovered the balloon 112 miles away from the launch site in a cornfield among “seemingly endless wind turbines,” according to Brodkin, in Pulman, Wash., where it had traveled at a rapid 100 mph.

The NYHS class of 2013 graduation will be held on Monday evening, June 17.

Makena Owens is an intern at Northwest Yeshiva High School.



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