On Thursday, February 9th the team took part in a conference call with Shane from Montana State University and got some important questions answered. The questions were very important when considering the direction we will be going in the future, what restrictions are placed upon our payload, and how much control we will have over the ground station. The questions we asked will be listed below with their responses.
Q: Can we have access to the Arduino code for the ground station?
A: We should be able to provide you with this information. This is significant Because it will allow us to manually track the payload and receive images if the automated tracking is no working.
Q: What is the range of the still and video transmitters?
A: The still image payload has a range of 40km-60km, while the Video has a range of 40.25km. This is from the ground station straight to the balloon. It was also mentioned that the balloon needed to be at an elevation of 60-80,000ft during totality.
Q: Is the objective to get real-time video of the shadow across the Earth’s surface or to image the Sun?
A: This decision is up to the team and what we think would look the best.
Q: What happens if we lose the Payload in test launches before the eclipse on August 21st?
A: We were informed that MSU has a few backup payloads and will attempt to provide us with the lost equipment.
Q: How will NASA TV display the video of each payload during the eclipse?
A: NASA will have an interactive website where the user will be able to click on what payload they want to see video from.
Q: Are there plans to add GPS capability to the still image payloads?
A: There are a few teams testing this and we will keep you updated on if it is working well.
Q: What is the largest payload you have had and what is the maximum weight of the payload?
A: The total weight of the balloon has to be under 12lbs. due to FAA requirement. The NASA payload has a weight of 6-7lbs. The FAA also has various density requirements for when we launch the payload.
Q: Can we have a UV A and B sensor and a Geiger counter on the payload?
A: It is important to test these in conjunction with the required components to see if they interfere with the imaging and other important parts of the system.