The High Altitude Research Team, or HART, had their second launch of the semester Saturday, June 1, around 9 a.m.
“Anything that could be of use to the scientific community, we invite,” said McKay Murphy, a senior studying physics and the team lead.
According to the team’s Facebook page, HART’s goal is to give students “hands-on high altitude research opportunities as they pursue degrees in STEM-related fields.”
During this launch, Murphy sent up a muon detector. A muon is a type of radiation.
Video by Joseph Tyre and Maddy Robb of Scroll TV
“We’re detecting specific particles,” Murphy said. “Specific little bits of the universe that are coming into our atmosphere. I think that’s crazy that we can do that to begin with. It almost seems like science fiction at that point.”
Caleb Malcarne, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, said he enjoys “building stuff; sending things up and seeing how they work and finding out what the problem is and solving it.”
Malcarne said he joined the team because they needed an electrical engineer. He helps them create the projects, solder components and make sure everything is built to last.
For future projects, Malcarne hopes to improve the CO2 detector he built and sent with the balloon and make a pressure sensor.
“I love the applied science of it,” Murphy said. “I love taking what I’ve learned in class, what I’ve learned from teachers, and applying that to real-world situations.”
Keaton Tate, a sophomore studying physics, said one of his favorite projects HART has done in the past happened during the total solar eclipse in 2017. Tate said someone sent up a 360-degree GoPro that recorded the eclipse at 50,000 feet.
“You can see the shadow of the moon coming across Rexburg. You can see the temple light come on, all the camera flashes,” Tate said. “It’s just a really neat sight.”
Tate said that he wants to do something similar someday, where he live-streams a flight, from the balloon’s point of view.
“Straight from the balloon … through the university or Twitch or something … kind of like how SpaceX does,” Tate said. “I think that would be great at getting people excited about what we’re doing here.”
Though the team focuses on scientific data,” Murphy said. “We’ve sent up rubber snakes just for fun. This flight we sent up patches, little arm patches, as part of Astrofest.”
Astrofest is a festival sponsored by the physics department and will take place June 8.
Not only does HART do research, but they also go on adventures all in the name of science.
“The last launch … we actually ended up landing over in the swamps by the dunes, which made for a not very fun recovery,” Murphy said. “We have been very accustomed to recovering from unusual spots, and this is the first time we’ve had to recover near a swamp.”
The balloon landed in a field southwest of Newdale.