Welcome to the 7th annual Near-Space Balloon Competition!

Call for 2017 NSBC Proposals have been released

Proposals are due October 10th

(to: balloons@spacegrant.org)

All 2017 NSBC teams must investigate this year’s focus:

The Earth

Earth is the pale blue dot we call home. Although we might send people to live on Mars, the Moon, or another planet in the future, for now we are Earthlings alone. As inhabitants of the Earth, understanding the science of our planet and practicing responsible stewardship for our home is very important! We are all responsible for the care of Earth, and analyzing plants and rocks on the planet, studying the ocean, learning about the atmosphere, and looking at weather patterns are all essential parts of responsible stewardship, and are vital for life.


Learning about rocks teaches us about the history and science of the planet. Studying plants allows us to develop sustainable agriculture to support and feed us. Atmospheric sciences are important because they teach us about the air we breathe, the gasses that insulate and protect the planet, the sun’s light, UV radiation, and the atmospheric filter through which we see space. Studying pollution is important because it affects our health and the health of the planet. Analysis of weather patterns is another essential part of Earth science; measuring wind speed and direction, pressure, and temperature allows us to make accurate forecasts. This is especially evident in light of the recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, hitting the Southeastern United States. Understanding our world is necessary for a sustainable, healthy life, and we should all strive to use science to learn everything about how our home functions.


Earth sciences are wide reaching, and ballooning provides a platform for studying many aspects of Earth and planetary sciences. Remote sensing from balloons allows us to image the Earth to learn about agricultural and oceanographic trends. Measuring atmospheric conditions from a balloon that ascends to 100,000 feet allows students (and scientists) to gather data that could not be collected from Earth or even from a satellite orbiting above. As the balloon goes through the ozone layer, students can learn about this important part of our atmosphere. Collecting data on the sun’s rays is another possible topic for students to study, and as balloons reach super high altitudes, great information can be found! There are many Earth and atmospheric science experiments that can be conducted from the NSBC balloon- the sky is not the limit here!


In addition to learning about the Earth, NSBC promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and allows students to see the importance of these fields. This year we especially hope to emphasize how all four of these disciplines are intertwined and encourage students to explore as many of the four categories as they can. Missions the students design will focus on scientific experiments, and utilizing technology is a key element of successful experiment design and data collection. Creating payloads and physically building the internal components means students are engineers, and math is applied to almost every science mission. Students are encouraged to use technology to their advantage- NeuLogs, Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, and solar panels are just a few of many technological tools that are inexpensive, versatile, and easy to use. The NSBC website provides links to get started, should students wish to utilize these tools.

Sponsored and Organized by the NDSGC


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