Friday, October 19, 2012

Analyzing Launch Data

While we were not able to recover the payload from our launch last Friday, we did learn a lot about what to expect for future launches and where we can improve.  The good news is that the tracking system worked impeccably, even after experiencing much more extreme conditions than expected.   Below you can see the flight path of the payload.  The balloon traveled over three times the distance we had hoped it would travel due to under-filling the balloon with helium. 

The following graph shows the elevation profile.  Our average ascension rate was about 48 meters per minute.  At the next launch, we hope to achieve an ascension rate in excess of 200 meters per minute.  You can probably notice some strange data in the graph below.  Specifically, elevation decreases and then increases again.  This could be a result of bad GPS data.  If it isn't, it's interesting. Perhaps there was an intense pressure gradient that caused the balloon to actually decrease its altitude. 

Below you can see precisely where the anomaly occurs in 3D view.  Also, a little while after the reported decrease in altitude, there is a half hour where the altitude essentially doesn't change at all.  It could be that we had less than 4 satellites locked during this time leading to latitude and longitude data, but no altitude data. 

More photos and video of the balloon launch will follow.

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