In 2013, Montana State University was selected to lead the national network of students monitoring the eclipse. Eclipse footage video was recorded in Australia in 2012. This is the first time there is an attempt to broadcast it live and with a network of ballooning payloads.
In the Fall 2013, I was enrolled in the Microprocessors HW and HW Systems course and professor Randy Larimer invited students to show up at the BOREALIS Lab for the first meeting of the semester. I participated in the first launch and flight in September 29, 2013. We had a lot of fun and had to travel almost 600 miles to retrieve the payload near Miles City, Montana. Professor Berk Kinighton was an awesome motivator.
On April 19, 2014 we launched a high-altitude balloon from the Harlowton Airport. The flight was a major milestone for all of us, it was praised by university press and the whole team was very excited with the results. It was the first time students were able to deploy a payload system to make the balloon "hover" the atmosphere. The student-built valve released helium, so the balloon would not pop automatically, instead it hovered at an altitude controlled. It hovered for 84,000 for 15 minutes. There was also an Arduino flight termination dart used to pop the latex and a Raspberry Pi camera system, both being tested for the final payload design for the 2017 eclipse. The payload also contained hardware to collect data on radiation, temperature and pressure.
This project was an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge and practical experience while still in an undergraduate program. It was also a way to give students career-making opportunities, many students acquire design and engineering skills that employers value. Speaking for myself I can tell, the technical challenges and team work I had with this team was comparable with other projects I have worked in the software development industry.