Ask Hackaday: Help NASA With Their High Altitude Problem

image of hackaday logo on box at high altitude

Unless you’ve been living under a high voltage transformer, you’ve probably heard that NASA has grounded the Space Shuttle fleet. This makes getting stuff to and from the International Space Station slightly more difficult. With the growing need to get small experiments back to the surface quickly and safely, NASA is researching an idea they call Small Payload Quick Return, or SPQR (pdf warning). Basically, they toss the experiment out of the window, use drag to slow it down, and then use a High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) self guiding parafoil to steer the thing down to a predefined location on the surface.

Now, what we’re interested in is the self guided parafoil part, as it takes place in known hacker territory – around 100,000 feet. This is the altitude where most high altitude balloon experiments take place. NASA is throwing a bunch of money and brainpower to research this part of the system, but they’re having problems. Lots of problems.

Stick around after the break and see if you can help, and maybe pick up some ideas on how to steer your next High Altitude Balloon project back to the launch pad.

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Get your uni, school or college involved in The Hackaday Prize

The Hackaday Prize

We’ve been busy contacting design tech and electrical engineering education departments to tell them about The Hackaday Prize, but there are only so many of us and we could do with your help to get the word out.

Are you excited about The Hackaday Prize? Do you think more people at your school should know about it so they can take part? Either way, please help us help them by emailing prize@hackaday.com to let us know what program coordinators, student group, or other people we should contact. If appropriate, we have a bunch of promotional materials we would like to send out to some of these awesome hackers.

You can also help us by telling your hacker designer friends, posting about The Hackaday Prize on college social media (#TheHackadayPrize), or letting the student newspaper know. We want to get as many universities, colleges and high schools involved as possible. Many senior year project ideas would make great starting points for THP entries, and we want to make sure students take up this opportunity to show off what they can do (and hopefully win some stuff in the process). This makes a great summer project, and looks great when applying for colleges or jobs in the future.

Remember you have until August to get your entry in, but the sooner you post it on Hackaday Projects, the sooner you can potentially start winning rewards. We have hundreds of tshirts, stickers, patches, posters and other swag up for grabs on the way to winning The Hackaday Prize.

 

Cornell final project list

Looking for an interesting project to do using an Atmel Mega644? Students at Cornell University have got you covered. They were required to choose, design, and build a project using the microcontroller; and this year is quite promising with video object tracking, the always popular theremins, helicopters, Potentiostats, even Pavlovian conditioned mosquitoes, and more.

Of course all the previous years are included as well, making over 350 projects total.

[Thanks Bruce Land]