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DMU students glimpse the edge of space

Stunning footage from the edge of space was captured by students from De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) Electronics Club.

A package containing GPS tracking, environmental monitoring equipment, a camera and data loggers - all designed, programmed and built by students - was attached to a balloon.

As well as capturing spectacular panoramic views at a calculated altitude of up to 30km - well into the stratosphere - measurements recorded temperatures plunging below -30 degrees Celsius, and balloon speeds in excess of 100kph.

Project Manager and Mechatronics student Sam Fletcher, said: “I was only in my first year when I took on the project and I learned so much from coding hardware to the logistics of packing it with foam to avoid damage. 

“The launch was a year in the making so I was quite worried on the day. We had a one-hour launch window and waiting for the rain to stop was really nerve-racking. I still remember walking to the middle of the field and letting it go…it was so cool!”

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The balloon was launched from Leicester’s Beaumont Leys Football Club on 23 June at 10.30am and retrieved six hours later, 66 miles away towards King’s Lynn. The hardware was still working and intact on recovery. 


Sam, who is currently undertaking a year-long work placement as a Validation Engineer at Caterpillar, added: “The GPS tracker sent updates to our phones every 10 minutes so we were glued to our screens. 

“As soon as we retrieved it, we put the SD card in a laptop and the moment we saw the black of space and the curvature of the Earth was such an amazing feeling!”

Open to students from DMU’s School of Engineering and Sustainable Development and beyond, the Electronics Club enhances members’ practical skills to help them with their taught modules and projects, as well as preparing them for the workplace. 

Manbir Sambhi, Technical Services Manager within DMU’s Faculty of Technology, said: “The club has become very popular. Last year we had an intake of 64 students from different backgrounds and studying courses across several of the university’s schools and faculties. 

“Each week students are given an introduction and hands-on exposure to different aspects of electronics. Gradually, over the weeks, they become familiar with practical electronics and confident enough to tackle various tasks or explore their own passions.”  

Posted on: Friday 15 September 2017

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