The wind could carry the balloon 150 miles from the launch site so we will be using GPS to track and locate the package along with a loud buzzer as a low tech back-up locator.
The package could end up in some hard to find areas like on top of a hill, deep in a forest or even on a lake! A GPS transmitter will allow us to follow the package as it travels and when it comes to a stop give us a clue to the final position.
We consulted a WNY company called FollowThatCar.com about our GPS needs and found a solution to our specific needs. After going over the "Mission 2 The Sky" flight log, the GPS gurus at FollowThatCar suggested a great solution which would not only allow our ground crew to track the flight unit, but also allow all our viewers to follow along in real time as well!
After we release the balloon our viewers and student scientists can go to wgrz.com and link to a special page which will show the position of the balloon as it moves through the sky along with a special icon showing our chase team as we follow the package. The flight up to 100,000ft and back down again should take several hours to complete. Our chase team will be tracking the flight unit and will attempt to make an in tact recovery based on the latest GPS signals received as it impacts the Earth.
While the GPS may get us close to the flight unit it may come to rest in a location that is not easily found. As a simple backup to the GPS, the package will also be equipped with a loud 128db buzzer. Our chase team will use the signal from the GPS to track the package, then when close, hone in on the sound of the buzzer to make the recovery.
You can download a printable copy of this experiment by clicking on a the link(s) on the right hand section of this page.