The University of Maine Orono is among 75 colleges and universities that are launching balloons 90,000 feet into the atmosphere to livestream the April 8 solar eclipse.

Ten undergraduate and graduate students have been “designing and testing cameras, data collection, control and tracking systems for the April 8 launch by the UMaine High Altitude Ballooning program,” according to a university news release.

The launch location will depend on wind and other factors, but it will be somewhere in the Northeast. The livestream of the eclipse from the vantage point of the UMaine balloon and others will be shown on YouTube on April 8. The project is being coordinated by Montana State University’s Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project.

“While atmospheric forces will ultimately determine the balloon’s path, models can help the team predict where it will go and where they should establish a ground station, ideally located along the path of eclipse totality, for retrieval,” according to the news release.

Andy Sheaff, a lecturer and facilities support for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the balloon will descend “on a parachute. The idea is the parachute deploys, and they come down nice and slow for a nice gentle landing.”

The University of Maine also participated in a similar high-altitude ballooning project during the last total solar eclipse in 2017.


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