Space Science Club open to newcomers
When Chris Hadfield blasted off in December, 2012, becoming the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station (ISS), some say he blasted up to the top of Canadian interest with his Twitter posts and photos he sends from the ISS.
Brian Jackson, co-founder of the Airdrie Space Science Club (ASSC), said as the club begins its fourth year, one of the exciting activities club members can look forward to is the possibility of speaking with Hadfield when the space station passes over Airdrie, at a yet to be determined date.
The club will be participating in an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station contact and is in the Alberta cue to speak directly with Hadfield if the commander has time.
Jackson, who describes himself as, “A card-carrying space geek,” said he is not sure at this point who the group will be talking to but if Hadfield is unavailable, club members’ questions will be answered by one of the other astronauts orbiting on the ISS.
“Once you get into (ASSC) it’s hard not to enjoy it,” he said.
The club is aimed at boys and girls between the ages of 10 to 14 years old and their parents. The group of about 30 meet at various schools in the city.
In May, the group will send a five-foot diameter helium balloon to an altitude of about 100,000 feet.
“We are into our third helium balloon launch,” Jackson said.
The earlier launches occurred in October of 2010 and in May of 2011.
As the balloon approaches greater heights, the diameter of the balloon will expand to about 35 feet and the balloon will be visible from the ground. Upon reaching its maximum altitude the balloon will burst and a parachute will float it back to Earth.
The Airdrie Balloon Experiment 3, as the launch is called, will collect data such as temperature variations between the different layers of atmosphere and will provide the avenue for two student-designed experiments.
The balloon will be outfitted with a still camera and a high-definition video camera to capture the flight. It will also be equipped with amateur radio tracking equipment to locate the balloon when it’s back on the ground.
Jackson works as a science teacher at Ralph McCall School and he said he’s always been interested in space education.
In addition to helium balloon launches and chatting with astronauts on the ISS, the ASSC meets one Saturday a month to work on model rockets for two hours. Once they are completed, the group plans to launch the rockets.
“(ASSC) caters to all levels,” Jackson said, adding they have members that have been with the group for three or four years who are working on advanced projects and members trying their hand at rocketry for the first time.
The club’s next meeting will be on Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Ralph McCall School. For more information, contact Brian Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org