The Eclipse Ballooning Project is a national NASA project that engages university and pre-college student teams from throughout the United States in high altitude ballooning.
For the first time on August 21, 2017, 57 high altitude balloons (HAB) will rise to 100,000 feet (from about 25 locations), form a “constellation” in the sky over the eclipse’s path from Oregon to South Carolina and live stream footage to NASA (https://www.nasa.gov/eclipselive).
Video and images of a total eclipse from near space are fascinating – and they’ve only been taken once before, in Australia in 2012, see footage. It’s never been done live, and certainly not in a network of coverage across a continent. The project’s homepage can be found here.
NASA predicts that hundreds of millions of people will watch the teams’ live streams on eclipse day.
The NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CTSGC) team is composed of students and faculty from the University of Bridgeport and the University of Hartford, staff and volunteer mentors from the Discovery Museum and Planetarium and students and teachers from the Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus (Bridgeport, CT).
Onboard the HAB, each teams’ payload (cameras, computers, communication and tracking devices) will transmit video to a ground station. Those images are then streamed online and will be accessible by any device, making the solar eclipse visible from the edge of space to anyone with Internet access.
Since the total eclipse cannot be seen from Connecticut, team members will travel to Kentucky. CTSGS will launch three balloons on eclipse day. Two balloons will carry cameras and a small NASA Astrobiology experiment (to help NASA understand the nature of certain bacteria in the context of microbial life on Mars or other extreme environments). The third will carry a radiosonde (weather recording instruments) to investigate temperature changes in the atmosphere due to the eclipse.