The week kicked off early with the launch of a high altitude balloon on Sunday. AREG, the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group released the balloon from Murray Mallee, which is a wide open area of fertile land usually covered with grain crop and sheep, located to the north and west of the Mallee river in South Australia. This is the second balloon released by ISU and UniSA's SHSSP18, as the first launch was limited to a smaller mission due to weather conditions and forest fire warnings. This time around, the launch site was moved last minute to accommodate changes in wind direction which had impacted the predicted trajectory of the balloon. The payload of the balloon included a GPS device, a camera and an inertial measurement unit to determine the angle of the camera. There was also a spectrometer enclosed to detect light wavelengths.
The launch was a success with the balloon reaching a height of 32,507m. The payload was retrieved from an empty field and quality data sets were collected at the end of the mission.

  • Launch Date: 04/2/2018 23:59:04 UTC
  • Landing Date: 04/2/2018 02:19:52 UTC
  • Flight Duration: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Launch Site: -34.878614 139.492314
  • Landing Site: -34.313174 139.107985
  • Distance Traveled: 72.7 km
  • Maximum Altitude: 32,507 m

To read more about the technical details of the balloon launch, take a look at the AREG blog.

The final exams took place on Monday and this could be felt in the atmosphere. Silence filled the Mawson centre, home of SH-SSP18, as participants studied with focus for the exam to mark the end of the core lecture series. The day was one of determination and concentration as one by one those exam questions got answered. A sense of relief filled the air as participants exited the exam hall at the end of the afternoon, heading to dinner to refuel those brain cells!

1With no time to spare, participants headed to their team project rooms after dinner to swing into full action on their team projects. There are two team projects this year: one called “Space Ready: The Launchpad for Emerging Agencies” and another called “Disaster Management: Space Based Solutions for Developing Nations”. Late nights and early mornings have been frequent this week as each team of approximately 25 participants work together tightly to create in-depth reports on their respective topics and prepare papers to submit to the IAC (International Astronautical Congress). Team bonding is pertinent to the success of the teams and this could be seen taking effect as the afternoons and evenings were decorated with moments of tension followed by moments of laughter and feelings of accomplishment. This week has been a week of intensive and on the spot learning between individuals from 15 nations and numerous professional backgrounds. The understanding and cooperation that had to evolve amongst these teams illustrates perfectly the unique culture of ISU and brings a spark to these final weeks of the SH-SSP18 experience.

2Dr. Christyl Johnson, NASA Goddard's deputy director for technology and research investments, made a special visit to SHSSP18 to spend a morning with the two team projects. Each team presented their project to Dr. Johnson and carried out discussions about their topics. And learning from Dr. Johnson and her experience. Conversation was flowing with ideas and information being conveyed between Dr. Johnson and participants and inspiration at an all time high. The meetings ended with an extraordinary atmosphere in awe of the achievements of these team projects. With all involved smiling at the experience, some great team photos were captured before Dr. Johnson left the teams, to continue their missions. A true SH-SSP18 memory!

The week finished with Friday’s culture night including five countries presenting their nations: Pakistan, Mexico, Bulgaria, Italy and India. The final presentation finished with a Bollywood dance by participants Amanda, Kavindi and Tom, after which local foods from each nation was presented for all to enjoy! A colourful end to an eclectic week of experiences!

AREG ISU balloon payload recovry

Payload recovery!

Photo courtesy of AREG