dinsdag 10 januari 2017

Wrapping it up

Where has OSCAR been?
What have we been up to?

After the launch campaign, the project is not over. Our experiment collected plenty of data, and this data needs to be analysed in order to make use of it and valorise our year-long efforts.
This tedious part of the work has already started, but it's not over yet! We have almost two hundred thousands curves to analyse for the solar cells, and a few hundred sweeps for the magnetometer.

Besides, like all projects, the documentation has to be kept up to date and accurate. Which means we have been busy issueing the last version of our Student Experiment Document, containing all final details on the flight and on the experiment.

In the meantime, since we did fly on a stratospheric balloon, we also got quite some attention from our university in the form of a UHasselt video story!
This can be viewed on our YouTube channel, together with other outreach-related videos from the past months.

donderdag 13 oktober 2016

BX23 flight day

[Photo credits of the aurora before the BX23 flight: Michael Becker]

The day BX 23 took off, we had a count down starting at 3:30 AM.
All teams gathered at the dome (massive construction where gondolas are assembled) to finalize preparations and run the usual last tests before launch.
Things are tense until the very last minute, and the four hours countdown can easily last five hours and a half.
But nobody would ever complain: we are there, and our sweat and tears of the last year are about to fly!
Less than one hour before the final lift-off, the late access team comes back, after removing the covers from our solar panels. This is the last we could see OSCAR up close before the launch.
The last full three quarters of hour, the whole bunch of the BEXUS campaign participants stayed at the entrance of the dome, super excited while they witnessed a perfectly nominal balloon inflation and lift-off.
After nearly five hours, the cut-off sequence was initiated. We managed to gather a huge amount of good data until our battery dried out, shortly before the descending.
Less than 24 hours later, we could meet our experiments again, when the recovery team brought our gondola back. You can imagine our surprise when we saw that OSCAR's frames withstood the fall (through some tree branches, even!).
More info and many more photos will follow!
For now: Thank you!
ThanX to all those who supported and helped us during this intense year of preparation! It was worth every minute of work!

donderdag 6 oktober 2016

Campaign week process

After 5 days of work, OSCAR is ready and fixed on the gondola!
The last few days have been very very tiring, with a lot of mounting and testing to do, and the occasional ghost hunt for to resolve problems that were never really there... We troubleshot so much in the last month, that we cannot believe that we do not have anything else to fix!

Make sure to keep an eye on our facebook page to follow our adventures :) In the meantime, we will take as many pictures and videos of our countdown and launch as possible! Like this we can report back soon and show you the payback of an entire year of work.

zaterdag 1 oktober 2016

Campaign week has started!

After roughly one year of work, our team has finally made it to the end!
We packed the rest of our experiment in an awesome BRAVIA 55' TV box (just to make sure airport staff will treat it as gently as possible) and got on the plane.
As soon as we landed in Kiruna, we could find again (almost) all the other teams members!
Get in for a group selfie, everyone!
Of course, first thing to do in the evening/night/early morning of our arrival is not sleep... We need to get used to heavy schedules, so: let us re-mount SAM-V3! Remember the awkwardly large magnetometer we once buried in the snow during training week? Well, he came with us once again, but needed some new tweaks, which J&J worked on till too late.

The North of Sweden looks different without the piles of snow. We left a white mass of land in February, to find a green forest! That means a whole new set of activities possible for our free time!
... but will we even have any?
For now, we are busy assembling all components back, fixing last minute changes, and trouble shooting for the last time.
Keep tuned, as we will try to share our progress as frequently as possible in between the rest of the campaign preparations!

woensdag 21 september 2016

There it goes...

OSCAR finally left UHasselt, in a very heavy and sturdy wooden box.

... bye bye, baby Aury!

See you in Kiruna!

dinsdag 20 september 2016

S.U.Z.Y. meets OSCAR

Our experiment passed its last review, and is finally ready to fly.
With this news, a lot of local news channels and science enthusiasts got really interested in us, and that's how we ended up not only on the local TV channel TV Limburg and in the national news paper Het Laatste Nieuws...

... but also tagged on Stijn Meuris' photo!

It was quite something to meet the man who sang about lovely satellite S.U.Z.Y, spinning quietly above the Earth and watching us from a distance.

Tot binnenkort, S.U.Z.Y!

woensdag 7 september 2016

Work work work work work....

Neverending work in space business!
Even if you actually stop at the stratosphere ;-)

Our electronics team needed to assemble lots of tiny components on our very cool Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), which are those fabulously practical sheets that hold all our connections. Since all the resistors, capacitors, amplifiers, and other elements of the circuit were not there yet, someone needed to spend long hours to position them on top of the right connections, paste them in place, and then "bake them" (the correct term is "solder") in order to create the link between the component itself and the electrical pathway hidden inside the PCB.

This requires quite some patience, good eyes, and a whole lot of time!
That's why we had an overkill of footage for this little timelapse video about the PCB finalization process.

The second head you see in the video is Thijs Vandenryt's, a brilliant engineer who volunteered to help us! Thank you Super TV!