June 19, 2017

Media Advisory – Eclipse Research Balloon Launch Rehearsal

Reporters, photographers and news crews this week are invited to cover a rehearsal for a research balloon launch that will take place during the total solar eclipse at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in August.

The launch rehearsal will be led by a team made up of students and researchers from Louisiana State University and other institutions. This practice run will give researchers a chance to work out equipment interfacing and other potential issues in preparation for the actual eclipse-day launch on Aug. 21.

A pre-launch media availability is set for 10:15 a.m., Thursday, June 22, at Saluki Stadium. Members are invited to stay for the launch, which is set for 11:50 a.m.

The primary payload will be a real-time, high-definition video system that will be used to image the moon’s shadow on eclipse day.  The balloon also will carry radio tracking beacons and possibly an experiment from a student team from Delgado Community College in New Orleans.

Following the launch, researchers will track the balloons and receive data from atop Saluki Stadium. They will cut the balloon away at an altitude of 100,000 feet, parachuting the payload back to the ground for recovery. The flight will take more than two hours, with recovery time taking an average of three to four hours.

Team members also will bring and briefly set up a portable digital planetarium, physics demonstrations and solar filter-equipped telescopes. The tests are to verify the optimum place to locate them on eclipse day. 

For more information, contact Bob Baer in the SIU Department of Physics at rbaer@siu.edu or 618/453-2729.