UCF students tracking solar eclipse data through NASA ballooning project

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Two students from the University of Central Florida will be joining a team from the University of North Florida and another from Florida International University to participate in NASA’s National Eclipse Ballooning Project.


Jacquilyn Reilly is one of the UCF students who will join the other teams just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas to help send up weather balloons.

“So that research can be done on gravity waves during the eclipse,” Reilly said.

It’s a research project that has been months in the making.

Lina Dupuy is the student coordinator for the mission. She said with instruments, equipment, and sensors the teams will work to get weather balloons up into orbit to gather insights about the solar eclipse.

Read: Solar eclipse 2024: Where will the eclipse be visible? This map and timeline show you

“Bringing it out into a field, releasing it, and it goes up into the stratosphere,” Dupuy said. “Eventually it floats for a bit if we get our vent system right. It pops, it falls, the payload lands somewhere.”

The students have gained hands-on training on real life activities that are similar to a space mission.

“I’m a physics major but I’ve gotten a lot of engineering experience because we had to put together the entire flight line,” Reilly said.

This has all come as they are spaced out between Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami.

Read: Solar Eclipse 2024: Here’s how to use your cellphone to capture images of the event

“Any STEM career you have you are going to have to work with people with diverse backgrounds and not necessarily used to working as a team,” Dupuy said. “You have to learn to fix the issue as it arises.”

Only a partial eclipse will be visible in Central Florida on Monday.

It is expected to start at around 1:45 p.m. The max partial visibility will be around 3:03 p.m. and end around 4:15 p.m.

You can enjoy partial eclipse festivities at UCF on Monday, April 8th. Those details can be found here.

You can also watch the Florida team’s weather balloons streamed here during the total solar eclipse here.

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