Maine School of Science and Mathematics Sends Device 35 km High with NASA’s CubeSat Initiative
Maine School of Science and Mathematics Sends Device 35 km High with NASA’s CubeSat Initiative

MSSM students and Dr. Rick Eason prepare the balloon for launch

An MSSM sticker was placed on the device

The contents of the MSSM CubeSat launch

The MSSM CubeSat device heading toward its max height of 35km.

The view from around 2,000 m

MSSM students launched a CubeSat with NASA, collaborating with UMaine. Their balloon soared 35 km high, gathering data, then landed safely.

LIMESTONE, MAINE, USA, May 17, 2024 / — Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) recently took part in a thrilling scientific endeavor through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. On Monday, May 13th, MSSM’s participation was highlighted by the launch of a CubeSat project, an event that saw the collaboration between MSSM students and the University of Maine, guided by Dr. Richard Eason, Associate Professor Emeritus.

This CubeSat project featured a latex balloon equipped with an array of sophisticated instruments, including the ADA1893 sensor capable of recording barometric pressure, temperature, and altitude. Additional sensors monitored UV levels and the density of common atmospheric gases, with all data being stored on an SD card through an Arduino Mega. The launch process involved meticulous preparations, filling the balloon with helium and ensuring the attachment of the lightweight devices was secure. The final assembly was carefully moved to a clear area, avoiding any potential obstructions like poles or wires, before making its ascent towards Grand Falls, Canada.

It finally landed on Loring Air Force Base which is only 4.5 miles away from its launch on the MSSM Campus, but it took a long way to get there. It made its way slightly north toward Grand Falls, New Brunswick, then dipped south into Canada, but came back north west. At roughly 35 kilometers high, the balloon popped and the parachute eased its fall. As it descended, it circled Loring AFB as if to find the right place to land. It touched down after about 3 hours between the Loring runway and the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge.

The MSSM team was comprised of nine talented students: Gabe Kirmani, Alice Ziegler, Thomas Nonken, Aerie Yin, Wendy Huo, Mia Shaw, Campbell Kennedy, Lochlan O’Connor, and Samuel Pike who all played crucial roles in the success of this project along with advisor Mr. Eugene Katsman. Their efforts were supported by MSSM faculty and several UMaine students brought along by Dr. Eason, who has an extensive background in various fields of engineering and technology.

NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative allows educational institutions and nonprofit organizations to engage in space-related research and technological demonstrations. Through this initiative, students gain invaluable hands-on experience in spacecraft design and operations, aligning with NASA’s goals of fostering educational and technological advancements. MSSM’s involvement in this initiative not only demonstrates the school’s commitment to cutting-edge science and technology but also provides its students with a unique opportunity to contribute directly to ongoing space research, underlining MSSM’s role as a leading institution in scientific education.

Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) is a tuition-free, public, residential high school that enrolls students from across the state and serves over 600 students each year through its academic and summer offerings. Opened in 1995, the school provides high school students a rigorous, student-centered curriculum that emphasizes the connections between math, science, and humanities, and culminates in opportunities for authentic research. MSSM’s summer camps inspire Maine middle school students to explore their passions for science, math, engineering, and technology. MSSM also provides professional development opportunities for teachers throughout the state. For more information about MSSM.

Ryan McDonald
Maine School of Science and Mathematics
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