Southampton Spaceflight are currently undertaking a number of technical projects for flight on future launches, including:
High Altitude Astrophotography
Astrophotography is a common hobby, however, fluctuations in our atmosphere will cause aberrations on our point source objects (i.e. stars!). This reduces the final quality of our photographs and to correct for this requires expensive adaptive optics systems used by large research telescopes.
The atmosphere also reduces the amount of light we receive from stars. Thus, we only see the brighter stars. Of course we could increase exposure times and/or stack data from multiple observing sessions to image the fainter objects, but this could take hours to days worth of observations.
Ideally we would get around these issues with a permanent space based telescope, like Hubble. However, this is well beyond our budgetary capabilities. (But will remain a goal!)
Our High Altitude Balloon launch experience will act as a perfect intermediary between the ground and space. The biggest challenge of this project will be to stabilise a DSLR camera to such a degree that any ‘jitter’ in our systems will happen on timescales longer than our exposure time.
This is a technically challenging project that will span many months. The skills we learn on this project will be transferrable to other teams (Rocket) and will look great on job applications and CVs.
I anticipate a large amount of publicity will result from this project.
Every balloon launch needs a tracker so the payload can be recovered after it returns to the ground. This project involves learning how to build and program these trackers giving you insights into the electronics used in launches and the variety of ways to accomplish the goal of finding out where the balloon is. It also leads into building electronics for other applications whether it be for recording temperature, controlling cameras or even guidance systems for our rocket projects.
Ongoing throughout the year, we go out to schools to help them with their balloon launches to help students get interested in space and science
A new project for this year, we’re looking at gaining experience with solid rocketry. We plan to build and improve upon designs similar to model rockets with the intent of taking them into schools for outreach projects.
Our ultimate goal is to build and launch a rocket into space (above the Karman line). This year we are designing and building a gaseous rocket engine to gain experience.
High altitude Bioprospecting
In an effort to both confirm and improve upon the efforts of existing research groups we aim to sample organisms floating from the lower troposphere to the upper stratosphere in discreet heights and then examine said organisms under scanning electron microscope (SEM).
Mars One Mission Proposal #LettuceOnMars
We’ve made it to the final 10 worldwide for Mars One’s onboard university payload with our proposal for a micro-greenhouse growing lettuce. You can find out more at our dedicated site, www.lettuceonmars.com