Gannon University Team Receives National Recognition

EarthPosted: March 11, 2015

A successful near-space balloon flight this weekend carried a payload that included a scientific measuring device designed by a Gannon University team NBC News reported.

The device, designed by a Gannon University team to observe characteristics of cosmic rays, was part of the balloon's payload, which also included a sensor designed by students from the Florida Space Institute at the University of Central Florida.

The device was constructed as part of NASA's Undergraduate Student Instrument Program (USIP). Gannon University is one of 10 universities in the United States that was accepted into inaugural year of the program, which is geared toward developing the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at the undergraduate level.

The 331,000-cubic-foot helium balloon that carried the device was launched on Sunday from Pinal Airpark, northwest of Tucson, Arizona. The balloon rose to an altitude of 105,000 feet, and served as a test-bed for the kind of balloon flights that could soon take passengers into near space.

Nicholas Conklin, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, was part of the Gannon faculty team, along with Wookwon Lee, Ph.D., associate professor, electrical and computer engineering, and physics instructor Perry Hilburn, M.S.M.E., that oversaw the students' efforts

"This balloon flight was the culmination of two years of labor by twenty Gannon University students, spanning seven different majors, and three faculty members," Conklin said. " I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work on a project that is scientifically interesting, measuring protons and helium nuclei in cosmic rays, and has helped prepare so many students to enter the workforce with experience working as part of a large team to successfully complete a complex project." 

More information about the project can be seen here.