Friday, July 29, 2016

Introductions: Brett Velasquez

Today we start to meet the new team members who will be helping out in Sweden. Welcome all!

Brett Velasquez is the current team leader of the USIP-II groups tomography and TEC (total electron content) instrument. He is a physics major at the University of Houston and plant to dual major in electrical engineering. USIP-II presented a great opportunity to obtain hands on experience both in the lab and in electrical engineering. To better himself he signed up for USIP-II and was accepted and became a team leader for the TEC and tomography experiments. USIP-II has given him a great opportunity to work with professionals, lab equipment, and various facets of hardware and software fabrication that that would not be taught in class. He has also learned leadership and teamwork skills such as managing schedules and project responsibilities. He hopes to apply these skills and experiences to acquire more positions in his future fields of work.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Introductions: Arian Ehteshami

Today we'll meet another of the Kiruna crew, Arian Ehteshami. Arian helped out in Kiruna last year as well with launching the balloons as well as helping out with two piggy back experiments from the University of Houston. He was the lead on the TEC experiment and helped out with the VLF experiment which flew twice last year.

Recently Arian graduated with a bachelor's of science in biomedical engineering-bielectrical concentration from the University of Houston. Currently he is a Mentor of USIP-II. Previous Lead on TEC experiment, member of Astrobiology experiment, and previous lead on VLF data processing tasks. His focus has primarily been in bioelectrical engineering which is composed of medical devices, optimizing biosignal filtration, brain machine interfaces and learning, biomarker detection. and biometrics. However, on the side Arian always had a strong passion for the space environment. The symbiotic relationship between humans and space habitats is a problem yet to be solved. By joining the USIP team back in 2014, Arian was able to understand many of the basics of atmospheric and plasma phenomenon’s and how to quantify them. USIP has changed his life for the better both academically and socially. It motivated him to help bring back the UH AIAA-student chapter after a eight year dormitory period, awarding him the AIAA award for student officer of the year. Currently, he is the CoFounder of a startup called OcuRhythm which was accepted into the UH Red Labs and Rice University OwlSpark startup accelerator program. He and his team are producing glasses that will help users shift their circadian rhythm by means of light therapy. These glasses have a learning mechanism that controls the lights based on the user’s own lifestyle. The root of this problem arose when Dr. Bering voiced the concern of astronauts and the state of sleep deprivation they experience. In the future, Arian hopes to be heavily involved with space medicine research that institutions such as NSBRI, Wyle, and NASA’s HRP are currently working on.

Welcome back Arian and we look forward to hearing from you during the campaign! You can follow Arian on twitter at @Aehtesha and the BARREL campaign at @keV_balloons

From Last year's campaign. @Aehtesha and @browncoat33 also known as Hamza.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Introductions: Edgar Andrew Bering III

This year we have a bunch of undergrads, and recent grads from the University of Houston helping out in Kiruna. They will also be taking on some of our twitter feed and posts. So we figured it might be a good idea to introduce them and say "Hi" and "welcome to the team". 

Today we introduce the ring leader :) Edgar (Gar for short) Andrew Bering the third, and yes that is his full actual name. He's a professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston. He got a physics undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1967 and his PhD in 1974 from University of California Berkeley. 

Dr. Bering joined University of Houston, in 1974, became an Assistant Professor in 1975, became a full professor in 1989 and received his present dual appointment in 1998. He has published 133 Refereed papers, 75 Technical Reports, 95 Invited Talks, and 364 other Abstracts. In 2000, he was a member of the VASIMR team that won the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement, Stellar Award, Team Category. In 2004, he received the AIAA Best Paper of the Year award in Plasmadynamics and Lasers. He has been involved in Education and Public Outreach since 1990. In 2005, he received a Special Service Award from AIAA for his work on the Mars Rover Model Competition outreach program. Thus his twitter handle @MarsRoverUH (and of course you can follow the BARREL campaign @keV_balloons). He is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA.

Dr. Bering created the annual Houston-wide UH Mars Rover model competition for budding engineers in grades 3-8 in 2002. From 2002 to 2005, this event experienced 40% per annum growth. As many as 720 students, 60+ teachers, 550 volunteers and 1000+ parents have attended these events. He has extensive experience conducting teacher training activities.  Dr. Bering has been active in several other youth oriented service activities, ranging from coaching baseball to tutoring neighborhood kids in physics. He was an Assistant Scoutmaster in BSA Troop 642. He has a son and a daughter, both now in their 20’s. Both of them majored in STEM subjects in college.

A mission like BARREL right up Gar's alley. Dr. Bering has participated in experiments to measure electron bremsstrahlung beneath auroras, electron bremsstrahlung accompanying both natural and triggered VLF events, auroral zone electric fields, plasmapause electric fields, electric fields at high altitude owing to thunderstorms, and the electromagnetic radiation spectrum of lightning at high altitude, VLF magnetic fields accompanying active experiments in the ionosphere, dc plasma properties in the ionosphere near pulsating aurora, electric fields near the magnetospheric cusp and atmospheric electric parameters at the South Pole. Dr. Bering is presently involved in the development of the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) at the Ad Astra Rocket Company. He is also working on the analysis and interpretation of the data from his recent Antarctic balloon campaigns, emphasizing studies of the role of ULF waves in the transport, energization and precipitation of radiation belt particles. And he and a couple of students (one who we'll meet tomorrow) helped out with BARREL during last years campaign.

We're glad to have him back up in Sweden with us! And we're looking forward to hearing more from you during the campaign!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Upcoming BARREL Campaign August 2016

Hi all,

This is just a brief post to let you all know that we have an upcoming campaign! This year we'll be flying from ESRANGE again in Kiruna Sweden. We've got almost everything packed and sent, tickets booked, and radar time scheduled. We also will have students from the University of Huston working with us again and hopefully helping to get some wonderful photos!

Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to our expected first launch date, Aug. 10th 2016.

Happy flying!

Alexa and the BARREL team.