Purpose of the flight and payload description

The balloon transported a prototype of a cubesat devoted to detect wildfires from orbit developed by students of The Bronco Space Club at Cal Poly Pomona, California. The team's Bronco Ember technology was designed to autonomously detect, track, and log terrestrial phenomena such as wildfires. The flight was sponsored by NASA under a initiative known as the TechLeap Prize that seeks to improve a variety of Earth and space-based capabilities, including detecting and tracking wildfires, identifying plumes of gas venting into Earth's atmosphere, and precision tracking of small spacecraft positions in orbit. The prize was conducted by NASA under its Flight Opportunities program.

The Bronco Ember payload was positioned on a gondola below the balloon to detect small blazes on the ground, which the team lit under controlled and contained conditions to test the technology's efficacy. While all components of the technology functioned successfully, the team found that improvements could be made to the technology's detection and tracking consistency - refinements they plan for the next generation of Bronco Ember.

Video footage of launch operations

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 7/8/2022 at 17:55 utc
Launch site: Raven Innovation Campus, Baltic, South Dakota, US  
Balloon launched by: Raven Aerostar
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon  
Flight identification number: HBAL599
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 7/8/2022 at 21:45 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 3 h 50 m
Landing site: NE of Mitchel, South Dakota, US

External references

Images of the mission

Members of the NASA TechLeap Prize-winning Cal Poly Pomona Bronco Space Lab with their Bronco Ember payload on July 8, 2022, prior to launch on a high-altitude balloon from Aerostar International (Credits: Aerostar/Aaron Propst) A member of Cal Poly Pomona's Bronco Space Lab, points out the camera and sensor used in the team's Bronco Ember technology to detect and track wildfires and other terrestrial events on Earth and other planets (Credits: Aerostar/Anastasia Quanbeck)      

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