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HHS Ballooning Project Update

First page of the PDF file: NewHamsphire-HHSflyer2, please call the SAU at 603-643-6050 for a paper copy
National Eclipse Ballooning Project

HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) - Hanover High School is collaborating with NASA to create balloon systems to stream video and collect data about the total solar eclipse.

On April 8, these students will send a balloon 100,000 feet into the atmosphere.

“Glad to see how far we’ve come. And we started off just by researching how ballooning works and what the eclipse does. And we’ve come to look at the eclipse through many different sensors and ways,” said 11th-grader Sebastian Bujarski.

View the story on WCAX

Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project

Two Months Later...

What Happened and Where Are We Headed

As part of the NASA and NSF-funded Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP), Hanover High School traveled to Oregon during the October 14, 2023, annular solar eclipse.

The NEBP is a nationwide initiative that immerses “teams from a wide range of higher education institutions in… data acquisition and analysis through scientific ballooning during… solar eclipses.” (Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP) | Science Mission Directorate). Of the many topics being conjointly investigated, the Hanover High pod is specifically researching how atmospheric gravity waves can be definitively detected in data. Stationed at Realms High School in Bend, Oregon, from October 12 to October 15, the team meticulously pieced together the components shipped earlier. This included ground station elements and 12 payloads slated for attachment to the airborne balloon. Despite minimal transit damage to the equipment, the team showcased their adept skills in assembling both ground station components and balloon payloads with utmost precision.

While at Realms, the Hanover team shared their work with a diverse group of students, ranging from sixth graders to high school seniors. Their presentation delved into the core purpose of the NEBP, provided a succinct overview of gravitational waves, and highlighted crucial components necessary for data collection and payload tracking. By tailoring the complexity of their explanations to suit the varied age groups, the team recognized heightened participation and engagement. Scientific communication, a cornerstone of the ballooning project, remains a central focus for Hanover High School as they actively seek ways to disseminate information about these once-in-a-lifetime eclipses with the public.


students posing for photo with mountain in the background
Hanover High students present on the purpose of the ballong project to Realms School students

Hanover High students present on the purpose of the ballooning project to Realms School students.


On October 14, the team ventured to Klamath Falls, Oregon, to launch their atmospheric balloon. 

Thanks to meticulous preparations the day before, the assembly process unfolded smoothly. The launch team efficiently rigged the payloads and commenced inflating the balloon. Simultaneously, the ground team, operating out of Bly, Oregon, established connectivity to the Iridium network and calibrated both the ground station and the RDF900, utilized for relaying data back to the team via radio transmission. Notably, the team encountered a minor hiccup during calibration when the ground station misaligned with the sun. Swift troubleshooting efforts allowed the team to reorient the dish quickly and stay on time.


Ultimately, the Hanover High team, notably one of only five high schools participating nationwide, was among the many teams to achieve a successful eclipse campaign. 

The group's success, beyond their preparedness and effective communication on launch day, can be attributed to the unwavering support from national communities, with special mention to Montana State University-Bozeman, the University of Maine, and their associated scientific and financial partners.

Currently, the team is redesigning the prediction models used to inform the ground team about when to vent off helium—a crucial step in maintaining the balloon’s altitude—and optimizing flight weight through building custom payload carriers.

As the team looks ahead, they are currently optimizing flight weight through the construction of custom payload carriers. Additionally, the team is redesigning prediction models crucial for informing the ground team about when to vent off helium—an essential step in maintaining the balloon's altitude. The team hopes to eventually share this student-designed application nationwide with the other pods.

The next solar eclipse the team will be a part of is the historic April 8 total eclipse—the last solar eclipse to cover the continental United States for the next 200+ years.

team members bill church and kevin lagigne watch the annular solar eclipse together from the ground station

Team Mentors Bill Church and Kevin Lavigne watch the annular solar eclipse together from the ground station.

launch team inflates the balloon moments before launch

The launch team inflates the ballon moments before launch.

the ground team eagerly watches live footage of the balloon from an onboard camera

The ground team eagerly watches live footage of the balloon from an onboard camera.



Eclipse collage

A three photo collage of the annular solar eclipse taken in Klamath Falls, Oregon.