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Posted by on 2019/04/26 under Life

Interestingly, I was part of a high altitude balloon project, responsible for hardware and software to record the flight via sensors. I designed, hand built, and programmed the data logger, single handed. I was there on balloon launch, during radio tracking, and balloon payload retrieval. I took the data logger payload and retrieved the data. It should be noted that I had not written the data retrieval program until after balloon recovery, so no one else could have overwritten my retrieval code with malicious software. I then parsed the data and made some quick graphs to show myself the data recovery went well (and view my own curiousity, as my job was just to record the data, not analyzing it.)

It's funny how every, single, variable measured (pressure, humidity, temperature, altitude, GPS coordinates, radio triangulation, radiation, ultraviolet light) matched the expected and scientifically accepted values. Every. Sensor! A second gps attached to the radio transponder matched the internal data logger values. The educational department had a camera facing balloons that were calibrated to burst at a certain altitude (due to pressure) which they did. A downward facing camera provided 70,000 foot view that I matched to satellite views of the terrain, confirming location and rough rate of accent. The balloon drift and rate of accent matched the meteorological predictions run that morning. Time and location for the balloon bursting matched predictions.

Yet, I'm sure I imagined all that science that just "happened" to work which I spent 4 weeks of 12 hour days, and weekends (and still have the payload box and electronics, maybe that was a government plant.) Or maybe the government "beamed" the data into my data logger floating 70,000 feet in the air. My bad.

Funny enough, for under $500 you can get everything to do a balloon launch yourself, up to "near space" at 110,000+ feet. The biggest expense is high quality helium. But they would never, ever do something so easy and simple.

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