Learning at the Edge of Space

$6,058 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 30 people in 15 months
Help support over 70 teams, made up of more than 1,000 middle school, high school, and university students, across the nation who are designing, building, testing, and flying high altitude balloons that will live stream the total solar eclipse from near the edge of space and perform important atmospheric research.

The National Space Grant Foundation needs your help to raise $20,000 by August 21st  to support the Eclipse Ballooning Project. The funds will be used to support student teams from Oregon to South Carolina conduct practice launches, replace payloads lost during practice, replace parts broken though testing, and to travel to the launch sites on eclipse day.  All donations are being made to the National Space Grant Foundation, a non-profit, 501(c)(3).

These students need your help to participate in this exciting, engaging, real-world, hands-on, life-changing experience and to give the world an opportunity to come together as a community to participate in this spectacular event!

Student teams from Oregon to South Carolina will launch more than 70 high-altitude balloons on August 21, 2017 along the path of the first total solar eclipse to occur across the continental U.S. in over 38 years.  Project activities by students, mentors, faculty, and staff have far exceeded our resources to fund everyone.  So, we need your help

All donations are tax deductible as they are being made to the National Space Grant Foundation, a 501(c)3, non-profit organization.

The eclipse is a unique opportunity to learn about our atmosphere's response to a rare event. Currently the only method to obtain a direct measurement of our atmosphere at many altitudes is by using balloon-borne instruments called radiosondes. These instruments measure atmospheric temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and pressure. This event gives students an unusual opportunity to participate in all aspects of an atmospheric research field campaign while interacting directly with experts in the field.

Providing real-world experiences for students is life changing, yet often funding constraints restrict a program's ability to execute. Further, with one-quarter of the US population thinking the sun revolves around Earth (2014 NSF survey), we do not want to turn away anyone who has an interest in science and the ability to participate in this valuable and likely once-in-a-lifetime educational experience.

We have done an amazing amount of work to bring this project to this point with limited resources, but…

We need your help!

- List of Teams
The Eclipse Ballooning Project In the Media

Donate $100+ and get a USPS Thermal Eclipse Stamp that has flown to near space on one of the student balloons!

Knox County Eclipse Space Balloon Project

NASA Edge Solar Eclipse Video

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From Angela Des Jardins, the Eclipse Ballooning Project Principal Investigator.

I wanted to send you an early update on the results of the Space Grant Eclipse Ballooning Project. The project, which included 55 large-balloon teams and 15 radiosonde atmospheric science teams from 30 states, was a great success. Our project was the first to live stream a total solar eclipse from the space perspective. Our project was also the first to cover a TSE across a continent from high altitude balloons. Unbelievable accomplishments, on top of the accomplishments for each individual team.

The Project featured prominently in the news with hundreds of national and local stories, including on a three-part “Great American Eclipse” special on the Science Channel (reruns are showing periodically). We hope the media coverage showcased the passion of Space Grant and NASA Education.

The Montana State University news service put together a great early overview video of the project that includes footage live-streamed by the University of Wyoming team. It’s available on Facebook as well as at this YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80G1OOmoTMw

Finally, I’ve attached a few of the images that have been shared with us so far. More to come as we gather footage, data, and stories!


Angela Des Jardins, PhD
Director, Montana Space Grant and Montana NASA EPSCoR
Principal Investigator, Eclipse Ballooning Project
Assistant Research Professor, Department of Physics, Montana State University
Girls Camp Launch
Overview Video
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Students prepare to launch balloons to get bird's-eye view of solar eclipse

For the first time advances in technology will make it possible for world-wide solar eclipse enthusiasts to watch live-streamed video of the celestial phenomenon – and they are doing it with balloons.

55 ballooning teams participating in NASA's Space Grant Ballooning Project have spent more than a year preparing for the Aug. 21 coast-to-coast solar eclipse.

“For the past year-and-a half I have been thinking of nothing but this eclipse, every day, every night. Constantly thinking of little ways to improve or to change the system for the better,” College of Charleston team lead Sam Fink told Fox News. “I can’t put into words how excited I am.”

+ Read More
Students from North Medford High School, Medford, Oregon are using the Eclipse Ballooning Project as their senior project and discovered that it’s a lot more work and challenging than they expected. They are launching two balloons, one with the common project payload and the other, of their own design, to gather high quality images and scientific information. They have done several practice launches over the last 18 months and have another one planned for late June. The team has a documentary company and two television stations following their progress and has quite a bit of local interest. The project has far exceeded everyone’s expectations.

It’s probably been the most ambitious science project that their high school has ever undertaken. They have received a little bit of funding from Oregon non-profits but are primarily self-funded. Without the help of others they would not have been able to participate.

Programs like this are really important for high schools in recruiting and encouraging our future technical workforce.

Visit their website at http://mfrhab.org/, which records the teams progress and has links to television and newspaper articles.
Medford High School Team
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The Temple University High Flyers team started out when John Helferty, a professor at Temple University, heard about the Space Grant ballooning program. His son used it for his 7th grade science project to gather air quality samples over his school and a local highway. The program expanded to John’s university students and when they heard about the Eclipse Ballooning Project it was like “Holy Cow, we can do this!” John has never seen a group of students come together like this team has. At first there was a little bit of friction but the focus of the project with a real life application and deadline really helped them to gel together. Learning became fun and the experience has been the highlight of many of their job interviews. The program has brought on a new breath of fresh air to the students.
High Flyers Launching Their Balloon
Temple High Flyers Ground Station
Temple High Flyers at Balloon Recovery
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Read a Previous Update
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$6,058 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 30 people in 15 months
Created May 4, 2017
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Megan Kemble
12 months ago

Ad astra!

Eric Day
12 months ago
14 months ago (Offline Donation)
Bob Cebuhar
14 months ago (Offline Donation)
Marcia Fiamengo
14 months ago

"We are at a point in history where a proper attention to space, and especially near space, may be absolutely crucial in bringing the world together." - Margaret Mead

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