QUT students aim for Dalby skies with weather balloon

QUEENSLAND University of Technology students have given Dalby residents a peek into space with a high-tech weather balloon.

Electrical engineering students launched the device - with cameras, tracking devices, a Geiger counter and an accelerometer attached - from the cricket grounds on Sunday.

Project leader Deyan Zafirov said he hoped the data gathered would provide a picture of the earth's general environment.

"We are investigating the planet's environment to see if we can notice patterns and how these may relate to other data," he said.

"We want to examine temperature, humidity, pressure, altitude and radiation."

IN ORBIT: Stunning photos of the Western Downs landscape taken from a weather balloon launched by QUT students.
IN ORBIT: Stunning photos of the Western Downs landscape taken from a weather balloon launched by QUT students. Contributed

Mr Zafirov said the team chose to launch the balloon in Dalby to avoid jet streams travelling east.

"With weather balloons, when they go up towards the stratosphere there are things called jet streams and they push east," he said.

"If we had done this in Brisbane, it could have ended up in the ocean and there was a higher chance it could land on someone's house."

The students almost lost the balloon to the wind just before the launch.

"We were trying to adjust the grip on the neck of the balloon and it had such significant upward force it slipped out of our hands and very nearly floated away," he said.

"But [Electrical Engineering Student Society president] Blake Fuller managed to grab the single piece of cord holding it, so he pretty much saved the day."

The team tracked the balloon through the atmosphere, before it returned to earth 10km north-east of Dalby.

Mr Zafirov said the project's data would be made available to QUT and the public.

Topics:  dalby qut space

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