Balloons to Near Space
Project GeoHawk is an assignment for an advanced remote-sensing class that charges students with designing, building, launching and recovering a high-altitude balloon-based remote-sensing system.
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Students send balloons with cameras to near space for a remote sensing project. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.
Imagine looking out your back window to see a parachute laden with strange silver boxes drift from the clouds and land in a tree in your backyard. It was a mystifying event for one Johnson County resident, until students from KU arrived to explain Project GeoHawk, a geography class project involving a camera, GPS locator and high-altitude balloon. Project GeoHawk is led by Kevin Dobbs, lecturer with the geography department and project coordinator with the Kansas Biological Survey.
Dobbs: Project GeoHawk is an assignment for an advanced remote-sensing class that charges the students with designing, building, launching and recovering a high-altitude balloon-based remote-sensing system. The second phase has them taking the data they get from their flight and using it to do a research project.
To better prepare them for their eventual careers, Dobbs wanted his students to know how aerial imagery is produced warts and all.
Dobbs: In the workforce later on they're going to be given things that aren't perfect. So this was a great opportunity for them to work with the data before it's in a refined state.
In addition to planning and raising money for the complex balloon flights, the students used remote sensing data from Project GeoHawk to complete research projects on a variety of topics.
Dobbs: They looked at things like identifying building footprints, identifying the percentage of impervious cover which can relate to water quantity and quality issues. Some students looked at a variety of images taken at different altitudes to characterize the atmospheric component of the images, because as you get higher and higher, the scattering of the atmosphere adds a component to the signal of the image."
For more on Project GeoHawk, log on to Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.
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