As part of the University of Tennessee Space Institute outreach effort, officials selected Franklin County High School’s science, technology, engineering and math program to participate in a high-altitude balloon launch from the campus’ front lawn.
The STEM class was chosen to learn about what goes into high-altitude balloon launches, which are conducted to gather weather condition data and do atmospheric and climate research.
Steve Brooks, associate professor, and graduate student Younes Baalla presented lectures before the November high-noon launch to educate students on the earth’s atmosphere as well as the formulas that are used to determine how much helium is needed to get balloon to heights at the atmosphere’s limits or beyond.
The balloon burst after three hours in the atmosphere and traveled more than 150 miles before landing in Robbinsville, North Carolina.
From the data retrieved, the balloon reached an altitude 107,800 feet — one and a half miles into space and above 99.7 percent of the earth’s atmosphere.
More launches are planned in the future.