30,000 meters into the stratosphere

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School kids launch “space capsule”

The students prepare the meteorological balloon for launching.

The students prepare the meteorological balloon for launching.

Panama now has a “space program”, thanks to a group of students from the International School of Panama (ISP), who last month launched a capsule into the stratosphere from the Scarlett Martinez International Airport, in Coclé. The capsule, named “Horizon-1,” reached 30,000 meters above sea level.

The ISP’s “Near Space Program” is run by a group of adolescents interested in space exploration and under the leadership of professors Jose Rios and Erika Arauz they built a polystyrene capsule with a thermal layer. Inside it has a high definition camera, a microcomputer with three sensors to measure ten different factors, including temperature, altitude, atmospheric pressure, humidity and luminosity. Other components included a global positioning system (GPS) and an additional energy source.

The capsule was attached to a meteorological balloon measuring six meters. The apparatus managed to record eight hours of video. The information obtained by the microcomputer allowed a better understanding of the Panamanian atmospheric conditions, which was the purpose of the experiment.

The polystyrene capsule with a thermal layer.

The polystyrene capsule with a thermal layer.

Daniel Moreno, a 14 year old, member of the ISP Near Space Program, said that this project highlighted the scientific curiosity of the Panamanian youth. They are planning to launch more capsules in the near future and want other schools to join their endeavors.

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