PongSats - Tiny 'Satellites' At Space's Edge

JP Aeronautics runs a pretty cool program for amateur experimenters. When the company sends up one of its balloons to near space (as high as 100,000 feet), it allows anyone to send up a tiny satellite all their own. The only restriction? it must be no bigger than a ping-pong ball.


(Away 24 High Rack ready for flight)

Here's a typical PongSat experiment by David Scott. The PongSat is based on a BASIC Stamp 2 module to measure temperature as it ascended. David's PongSat used a BS2, a Dallas Semiconductor DS1620 digital thermometer, and a 93C66 512 byte serial EEPROM. It used 16-bit words and was capable of making up to 256 measurements, each 90 seconds apart. On its "mission" it succeeded in making 98 temperature measurements before its battery froze.


(PongSat ready to go)

Sounds like a great opportunity for everyone.

These things really remind me of the recording eyes from Robert Silverberg's excellent 1969 novel The Man in the Maze. How can you best take a look at the surface of a planet that is always shrouded in clouds?

"...We parked a drone ship fifty thousand kilometers up and dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV. At least half went straight to the bottom of the ocean... This was the only one that actually showed us a clear view of the aliens."
(Read more about recording eyes)

Read more at the PongSat page.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/19/2007)

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