Preliminary Design Report published

Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 6:00 pm

The first milestone in the Student Experiment Documentation (SED) is the Preliminary Design Report (PDR). In this document, the major outline of

the experiment is described.

Details can still change.

The PDR for the Stratospheric Census experiment is available for download here.

Dusting off the stratosphere

Posted on Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Dust is

a part of everyday life: Dust underneath the bed, waiting to be vacuumed, dust in the air, waiting to be inhaled, dust everywhere – a very annoying part of life. Not so for the BEXUS student team of “Stratospheric Census”: “Dust can actually tell very interesting stories, where it comes from and what it is composed of”, says Martin Rudolph, member of the “Stratospheric Census” team. The team is aiming high and will collect dust in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere in an altitude of 10 to 50 km. This will be done on a BEXUS balloon, sponsored jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB). The balloon is bound to be launched from ESRANGE in Northern Sweden in September.

It will carry the “Stratospheric Census” experiment up to the required altitude of 25 - 30 km. Then a fine-grained filter will collect the desired dust from the surrounding air. Like in a vacuum cleaner, the air will be blown through the filter, using a powerful pump.

In the stratosphere, dust levels are low but one can expect particles originating both from the Earth and even from outer space. Interesting particles from Earth stem from volcanic eruptions, those from outer space are dust from comet tails and meteorites. The goal for “Stratospheric Census” is to measure the levels of both these dust types: A census of dust in the stratosphere, as the team says. After the flight, the filter containing the dust has to be recovered and analyzed using techniques such as neutron activation analysis and electron microscopy. Besides the flight itself, this is a key part of the mission.

In the “Stratospheric Census” team, four students have gathered, all of them working on their Master Degree in Space Science & Technology at Luleå Tekniska Universitet, Sweden. Truly international, they come from three different ESA member countries.

Together, they will now make the “Stratospheric Census” reality. The challenges they are working on right now are the low temperature and low pressure conditions during the balloon flight and the constraints that this environment places on the choice of components. “We are already looking forward to seeing our experiment fly up with the balloon and we are working really hard for this special moment”, says Martin Rudolph.

For further inquiries, please contact team member Martin Siegl at

Team members Jaroslav Urbá?, Martin Rudolph, Martin Siegl and Gerrit Holl at ESTEC, Noordwijk, during the selection workshop.

Team members Jaroslav Urbá?, Martin Rudolph, Martin Siegl and Gerrit Holl at ESTEC, Noordwijk, during the selection workshop.