On Monday, March 31, 2014, many months of hard work and planning came to fruition when the Nanosat/SEDS Joint Experimental Balloon (NS-JEB) launched over the Buffalo/Niagara region.
Background noise radiation from household devices like WiFi routers and cell phones has a big impact on communication systems in cubesats. The purpose of this balloon was to determine the levels of this radiation above western New York. The payload contained an array of instruments, including a camera, GPS, barometer, magnetometer, an independent APRS tracking beacon, a redundant SPOT tracking beacon, temperature sensors, heaters, and two radios for measuring noise levels. An Arduino was used to gather data from the sensors, log it to flash memory, and maintain temperature control.
As planned, the balloon burst roughly an hour away from buffalo, after taking the following path:
We are still in the process of analyzing the data. However, once published, cubesats will be able to use it to more accurately estimate the communications capabilities of the satellite.
While it appears that the scientific data captured by the radios will be quite useful, a baffling image was captured by the onboard camera, which has defied all attempts at analysis:
What is its meaning? Perhaps we will never know
Check out the video of the entire flight below: