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### Lightning from the Edge of Space ### #### About Us #### @[youtube]( Ready to leave your Georgia Tech legacy at the edge of space? We build electronics and software for a high altitude (100,000 ft) balloon platform, which we then launch and recover. We bring together the engineering of circuits, power systems, software, and mechanical structure with physics and data analysis. We are motivated by sensing of lightning and a few other atmospheric electrical phenomena and to launch these balloons over thunderstorms. We have sensors on board that can be used for this. However, in the process we have built a platform that can accommodate other research instruments, and are transforming into a research service that can be used by others on the GT campus. We have launched and retrieved several balloons over the years, including one over the top of the 2017 solar eclipse. We tend to launch once per semester, and in between those launches, we have some seriously fun engineering to do, much of it a team effort. We want a platform that is light, cheap, controllable and trackable from the ground with wireless communications. We want increasingly complex instruments and sensors on board. We want hardened launch logistics that will enable us to launch in thunderstorm conditions, at nighttime, or even on demand. ![Launching the balloon][1] #### What we Research: # Our main research is on lightning and its effects on the electric field in the atmosphere, as well as lightning formation mechanics and other thunderstorm-related electrical activity such as red sprites. While there is plenty of research on lightning at the moment, the phenomenon and surrounding effects are still not well-understood. We plan to bridge this gap by collecting more empirical data to come up with improved reasons for aforementioned phenomena such as red sprites. For an overview of the science behind our research, look below or check out the science team, linked in the "subteams" section. #### The Science Behind This: ### ![Weather Balloon][2] Lightning is natural electrical discharge. As a result of graupnel, charge differentials commonly begin to build within a thunderstorm. The purpose of the weather balloon is to carry the payload to the desired altitude to measure these electrical discharges. #### Majors of Interest: #### As a highly interdisciplinary VIP, we look for a wide variety of majors who can help us in every step of the way: EE, CmpE - Circuits and embedded systems, smartphone app programming, wireless communications, electric field sensors, image storage and processing. CS - Programming, mobile app development, wireless networks, server development. ME, AE - Lightweight material platform design and fabrication, aerodynamics. EAS - Atmospheric electricity, instrumentation, data processing. Physics - Instrumentation, x-ray sensors #### Subteams: #### We split our team into four subteams that work on each part of the project before bringing it all together: [Science Team][3]: Science team works on the science behind the purpose and research we do - if you are interested in looking into the theory of lightning, as well as the theory and modeling of electric field instruments, this team is great for you. [Software Team][4]: Software team mainly works on the reception and collection of data for the rest of the teams to use/analyze. If you are interested in devices, radio, or javascript programming, this team is perfect for you - especially if you are a Computer Science major. [Electrical Team][5]: Electrical team works on the hardware and basic electronics of the payload. As of late, this usually has included circuits, signal processing, and getting electrical components (such as software-based receivers) together. If you are interested in anything related to low-level hardware or circuits, this team is perfect for you (ECE majors). [Mechanical Team][6]: Mechanical team's purpose is to work on the mechanical aspects of the balloon. This includes waterproofing, air filling mechanisms, payload release mechanisms, and adapting the balloon to match subteam requirements for payload components. If you are interested in anything related to mechanics or flight, this subteam is great for you. #### Other Info: #### For more information about this VIP, including section and meeting times go to our official Gatech VIP website: VIP: Our leader/mentor is Dr. Morris Cohen, part of the ECE department. If you would like to contact him specifically for more VIP info, follow this link: Cohen: [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]:
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