Today was the day and to say things came together is an understatement. We learned from what happened on Saturday and as you can see from the pictures we had a very secure method for inflating the balloon and also for attaching the scale to measure the balloon’s lifting capability.
While Trevor and students went to get the Helium Fred, and I with the help from several students assembled the tracking station. During that time we verified the TV and GPS signals and were ready for the helium. Inflation of the balloon went smoothly and after a countdown the balloon was released. It slowly but steadily rose nearly vertically from the field and for much of the ascent stayed generally over us.
Use this link to see the track the balloon followed. http://aprs.fi/?call=a%2FKG6YRB-11
What was really cool was that we were able to see the balloon all the way until it burst. Yes we saw it burst at an altitude of 94,000 feet!!! One moment there was a small but bright white dot and then nothing. Through his binoculars Fred saw fragments of the balloon around the parachute.
In the picture with the flag look for a white dot up to the right from the top of the flag. That is the balloon at around 88,000 feet.
Within a half-hour after burst we decided to ‘saddle up’ and start heading for where it looked like the payload was heading for. First stop, however, was the pizza. Then we drove south on Highway 69 and then east on 223rd street. (The CAPS building is at 141st Street). We followed the GPS signal (Fred had set it to sound like a Yeti!) and eventually after following several grunts from the GPS we wound up near a pond at a T intersection at 215th street. According to the Yeti the payload was to our left but after connecting the antenna for a stronger signal we were told it was straight ahead. And sure enough it had landed in a plowed field maybe 500 feet from the road.
I’ll post some video on the Dark Matter Facebook page.