Actarus Project

Open Source Arduino & Android-based High Altitude Balloon with Gps Assisted auto "Return To Launch"

28,978 meters: mission (mostly) accomplished

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The goals of the launch were partially achieved.
Unfortunately at the moment, in spite of today’s mass research, we have not been able to recover the equipment and then the pictures taken during the trip.
There was a 94% probability of identifying the point of landing, but bad luck didn’t help us: the payload fell into an area of ​​land that is part of the 6% not covered by the Italian GSM network. In this way, we lost contact with the balloon at a height of 2,733 meters, not allowing to know the exact location of the landing itself, but only a radius of ​​700 meters in which the landing took place.
Our choice to install an onboard computer equipped with telemetry (433mhz radio system capable of transmitting data at a middle distance), however, rewarded us, allowing to receive virtually all the data (including data on the position of the balloon) that otherwise would be lost, realizing those who were the targets proposed in the mission. These data were received during the ascent up to 28,978 (the outbreak) and during the descent up to a height of 2,733 meters.
The data confirmed the validity of the predictions on the trajectory: in the forecast we had calculated that with the outbreak at 29,000 meters, the landing area would be Castello Dell’Acqua: landing in fact carried out in Val Malgina near the town of Castello dell’Acqua.
The data also confirmed that those were our expectations regarding the speed of ascent and descent (with a peak of 300 km/h immediately after the outbreak mainly due to the low density of air at that altitude), while they gave us unexpected results about the temperature inside the payload: the temperature remained in fact for the entire ascent above zero, falling to just below freezing during the descent phase. This means that despite the opening to the outside in order to make the photos, the isolation of the box worked more than admirably, allowing also the batteries to function properly throughout all the trip and beyond.
Another positive fact was the proper functioning of the parachute and the fixing system that worked properly, ensuring proper descent of the payload.
The GPS module has operated beyond the 25,000 (usually such modules only work up to 18,000 meters).
Usually the problems faced by those who carry out experiments of this type are mainly technical problems (battery life, errors in hardware, problems on hardware configurations). In our case, the technique was impeccable and this is a strong stimulus for the overall project and for the next launch.
In particular, it appears even more the need for a Return To Launch system, that can allow therefore to plan before the point of landing, and in particular on this point will thus continue our research.
To those who ask us why we have not launched from the “Pianura Padana” (carrying a 100% chance of recovery), we say that our goal was and is to carry out our experiments in our valley. We do not care to be sure of the result if we have to leave our territory. The project is and remains first and foremost a local project, conscious of the fact that the topography of the area makes experiments more difficult, but this does not scare us!
We thank everyone, especially our sponsors for giving us the opportunity to start this adventure and all those who have given us a hand.
In the coming days we will publish the photos and video of the launch, and some more precise data about those received from the balloon.
Also remember that if someone wants to go into Val Malgina to seek the payload, the last coordinates of contact with the balloon (the payload should be within 700 meters from this point): Lat: 46.104248 Lon: 10.037607
Stay tuned!

Actarus Team (Luca & Amos)

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