July 30, 2012 — Up, Up and Away

Malcolm LeClair, a junior at Tenafly High School, reached the upper atmosphere during late July. As a member of Project SMART (Science and Mathematics Achievement through Research Training) at the University of New Hampshire, LeClair and two other high school students from other states successfully flew and recovered a scientific payload that had been carried aloft by balloon to 105,700 feet. According to New Hampshire’s Union Leader newspaper, the balloon was launched in Brattleboro, Vt., and rose at a rate of 1,000 feet a minute, reaching its maximum height an hour and 48 minutes later. During the flight, the students successfully got real-time measurements of changing levels of cosmic rays and changes in atmospheric temperature and pressure—as well as some pretty cool photos of the planet Earth from space. It later landed safely on a 3-foot, dish-shaped reentry vehicle that the students built out of pink Styrofoam and cardboard, apparently quite a feat in the absence of a parachute.