Purdue students use weather balloons to achieve sky-high goals

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A group of Purdue students is launching high altitude weather balloons to gather data and eventually launch rockets into space.

The Association of Mechanical and Electrical Technologists is an extracurricular group of Purdue students who form applied science projects to get hands on experience.

The group launched a high altitude weather balloon on Saturday, March 8.

Mechanical Engineering Technology Senior Dahlon Lyles said the balloon reached 80,000 feet in the atmosphere. It landed six and a half hours away around the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

“We personally don’t like seeing it go that far because we usually have to drive out and get it. We were fortunate enough to find out who lived in the area,” Lyles explained.

The balloon carried a cooler, which had devices to measure altitude, air pressure and temperature.

AMET has launched at least five weather balloons.

“We’re trying to get as much data as possible. This last launch was an intro to get new members involved. We’re going to be doing a lot of calculations coming up, but we wanted to show them the fun that was involved with it,” added Lyles.

“This is just a general launch and right now we’re planning on a lot of bigger stuff with gliders and rockets on top of the balloons,” said Mechanical Engineering Technology sophomore Stephen Arndt.

Lyles said the main goal for the weather balloon launches is to develop a high altitude space station to launch rockets into space, which is at least 400,000 feet into the atmosphere.

“As a child, I always enjoyed space. Every kid wants to go to space. It is not feasible, but to be able to say I sent something to space is what everyone in this group is looking to do,” Lyles explained.

Lyles said the group plans to compete in a global space balloon challenge this semester. He said the group is also in contact with the Navy to potentially do experiments with them.

“Everyone here is excited to find out an international company wants to look at us and actually do this,” said Lyles.

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