Last Tuesday, a group of professors, students and robotics hobbyists launched the H.A.L.E. (High Altitude Lego Extravaganza): seven Lego Mindstorms robots attached to a weather balloon, which exploded at 30km over the Earth's surface. Each of the robots parachuted back successfully, but not without taking the obligatory photographs of the ascent and descent:
The seven robots were designed to achieve seven different missions:
Brian Davis, Indiana, USA
Project: Little Joe
This robot will perform an automated free-fall in an attempt to set the record for the longest MINDSTORMS NXT free-fall. The robot will be detached from the main balloon near maximum altitude and will free-fall until the parachute deploys.
The robot will be an automated camera platform that will take both video and still images. The MINDSTORMS NXT will control all image timing as well as pitch angle
FLL Team 90/David Levy (Coach), Virginia USA
Project: FLL Team Challenge: Climate Connections
A FIRST LEGO League Climate Connections team will build a robot to measure UV radiation as a function of altitude. The MINDSTORMS NXT will not only data log the UV sensor readings, but will also be used to rotate the UV filters in position as well as control the robot heater with a temperature sensor.
Barbara Bratzel & Chris Rogers, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA
Project: Fourth Graders
A group of 4th grade students will investigate the impact of flight conditions on yellow marshmallows (a.k.a peeps). The MINDSTORMS NXT will be recording temperature and pressure during the mission.
David Martinez, Jurgen Leitner, Sweden
The robot will be measuring the change in G-forces as a function of altitude. The robot will repeatedly drop a tethered Wiimote at different altitudes to measure the acceleration experience.
Claude Baumann, Francis Massen, Jean Mootz, Luxembourg
Project : LUXPAK
The robot will be using an RCX to measure ozone concentration, air pressure, temperature (inside and outside) and reflected light from Earth during the descent.
Eugene Tsai, Taiwan
The robot will be using filtering papers to capture particles and/or chemicals in the air during the balloon ascent and descent periods. The LEGO Mindstorms NXT will be used to provide a mechanism to switch filtering papers to capture the materials in the air and then keep the papers in a secured compartment. The filtering papers will be retrieved and analyzed to see what chemicals and particles exist in different altitudes.