The science and engineering team at the ANU's Advanced Instrumentation & Technology Centre (AITC) on Mount Stromlo has an ongoing programme of high-altitude balloon (HAB) missions for the purpose of carrying out experiments in near-space conditions. These large helium-filled balloons are released at ground level with payloads attached, climbing to an altitude of around 30 km, above 99.9% of Earth's atmosphere.
The balloons then burst and the payload returns to Earth via parachute. The payloads and science data are then recovered. Technical projects are available to improve the AITC's reusable balloon platform to increase its reliability in the field. A range of project timescales are available, suitable for a variety of student levels. For example, we will soon need to implement a remote cutdown system fro early termination of flights via a radio signal from the ground; also we wish to develop a backup tracking system that sends landing site data to flight teams via the internet and SMS, in the event of a radio system failure.
Engineering students with software and/or electronics experience would make good candidates for this project. Most of our exiting flight hardware is based on low-cost hardware such as Raspberry Pi computers and Arduino microcontrollers.