The BYU-Idaho High Altitude Research Team, run by Ryan Nielson, a professor in the physics department and HART advisor, wants more students to join and assist in research.
The High Altitude Research Team, also known as HART, has worked on various research projects in higher altitudes. HART focuses its projects to the members’ majors. Physics students have studied radiation throughout the atmosphere, biology students have captured bacteria and engineering students have helped build equipment.
According to HART’s Facebook page, “we … put them [the students] to work on tasks ranging from payload rigging and launching, to instrument building, and public relations.”
The team’s goal is to give students opportunities to put what they are learning into practice and help build resumes for potential employers.
“I get to take something that I want to study… and I get to put it into action,” said McKay Murphy, the team lead and a senior studying physics.
In the past, Murphy has worked on a project called HARPI, the High Altitude Radiation Project. The team measured radiation throughout the atmosphere. Currently, they are working on HARPI but are adding a muon detector, which detects the very heavy muon particles. The team hopes to see how many muons are in the high atmosphere.
Muons are a particle similar to an electron, but much heavier, according to Brittanica.
“We could use a photographer, someone to help with record keeping, just basic logistics,” said Nielson. “It’s a resume worthy item.”
HART got its start in April 2017, during the total solar eclipse. Weber State’s High Altitude Reconnaissance Balloon for Outreach and Research, or HARBOR, a similar group, helped get HART formed.
“They’re like our parent,” Murphy said.
Weber State’s program helped get the leadership set up and gave advice on how to run HART. The two programs got to work together on collecting data from the eclipse for NASA.
HART’s Facebook page has photos of some of their expeditions with images taken by their balloons while 30 miles in the air.
“There’s the creativity; there’s no limitations,” Murphy said.
Nielson and Murphy said they are excited to have more people join HART and bring more project ideas that they get to work on in the future.