The Remote Sensing program at the University of Lethbridge is bringing students to higher altitudes. As the only post-secondary institution in Canada to offer a major in remote sensing, the program is designed to expose students to the broader context of imaging science and technology, with a focus on imaging spectroscopy and remote sensing. Dr. Craig Coburn’s Remote Sensing 4650 – Physics of Remote Sensing class is no exception to this focus. With funding given to Dr. Coburn through the AGILITY Teaching Fund award, students were able to experience first-hand the innovation of remote sensing technologies by designing and implementing an experiment involving a high altitude balloon.
Students designed and built visible, NIR and thermal band sensors, ran laboratory calibration of these sensors, built and tested Sun photometers and two groups conducted vicarious techniques on the ground. On the balloon, there was the main sensor package, a GPS, temperature and pressure sensors as well as a GoPro action camera.
The goal of this experiment was to see what altitude a balloon could reach before popping. The balloon achieved an altitude of over 30 kilometers (30,132 m to be precise) and worked in temperatures up to -65º C. Although unexpected as the balloon burst, the system flipped unexpectedly and triggered the imager, which ultimately led to some amazing shots of the Sun, Atmosphere and Space being captured.