You don’t really have to be an accredited scientist to prove the world that you actually can do scientific experiments. All you need is passion, knowledge and a little financial effort. That’s how a team of San Diego engineering students succeeded doing an experiment that involved sending a balloon, solar panels, cockroaches and anti-freeze Cucujus beetles into near-space.
80,000 feet did the weather balloon travel upwards, above the Salton Sea in Southern California. Its payload included a 360-degree panoramic camera designed by them, and various CO2, ozone and temperature sensors.
The experiment’s most interesting discovery was finding out that the solar panel mounted on the balloon increased its power output by some 70 percent at the highest altitude, proving that solar panels are a viable power option for the onboard measuring instruments.
“After we collected the data results from the weather balloon, every single set of beetles reached negative 55 degrees Celsius,” Wheeler said, adding that the students are waiting on the data from the beetles’ survival rate.
The Japanese also planned on installing high-efficiency solar panels onto the moon, but their plan is considered too expensive (and futuristic) for the moment.
By the way, all of the cockroaches died.