Team Real Ryte, made up of all the high school students at Grove Street Academy of the Children's Home of Kingston, successfully launched a 600 gram balloon with 2 cameras and several science experiments on Friday, May 6, 2016.
Our payload was 3.9 lbs including 2 GoPro Cameras (a HERO facing down and a HERO 4 facing out to the horizon and including a view of a thermometer (our cheap temperature data collection when we could not get the equipment to record temperature in time), a sample of local estuary mud (to see the effect of a trip to the stratosphere on microorganisms), some artwork and a Byonic Micro-trak AIO VHF APRS transmitter for location, elevation and speed information.
We launched at 2:54pm EDT, and the balloon climbed to at least 92,318 feet while traveling 60 miles to the NNW (a highly unusual direction due to the low pressure system in the area - but chosen for the potentially easier recovery). It then continued another 22 miles on descent. It went much further than we predicted - just over 82 miles, landing in Kringsbush, NY. One teacher and his child chased it and recovered it undisturbed in a grassy yard 20 minutes after it landed.
Upon examination, plenty - if not all microorganisms survived! The water did not freeze, and only minimal evaporation occurred. The container was sealed with a weak reusable plastic container seal, so the top allowed it to lose some pressure and minimal water through evaporation at altitude.
Our camera batteries both died from cold at altitude. The downfacing camera died just before the high point and mostly just caught clouds. The out facing camera caught some beautiful shots of the horizon and sky at 92,000 feet - along with the balloon burst and pieces of the balloon as the payload tumbled in the initial descent.
Over all a great success!
Inflating the balloon:
Turning on the cameras just before launch:
Finally in the air!
Just before balloon burst:
Just after balloon burst - in initial tumbling descent:
As we found it after landing: