Firestar, the fifth MARSBalloon mission will launch into the stratosphere at noon Wednesday the 17th June 2015. On board are 80 Mars science experiments from 42 primary and secondary schools from around the UK. The balloon is expected to reach 30km altitude over a two hour flight where the experiments will be exposed to temperatures as low as -50°C, pressures 1/100th that of sea level and increased levels of radiation all of which are very similar to the surface of Mars. During the flight the experiments will be filmed by two gopro cameras and after recovery the experiments will be returned to the students for analysis of the results.
A naming competition for the mission was held between the participating schools and the winners were students from The Vale Academy in Lincolnshire, with their name Firestar Invenisset which they chose for the reasons of:
Ancient Chinese astronomers gave the name “Firestar” to Mars because it looked like a red star, that seemed to be on fire. Invenisset means discovery in Latin and the balloon will be discovering results and information that we be useful for when man colonises Mars.
-Year 8 students, The Vale Academy
The name was shortened to just Firestar as the mission needs a short callsign. Their prize is for their school logo to appear on all the mission decals which will feature prominently on the flight footage.
The 80 experiments launched on Firestar will bring the total number of science experiments flown by MARSBalloon to over 350 over the course of three years. On this flight some of the standout experiments include tests of Mars-like conditions on:
- Sheep’s eye balls;
- UV florescent slime;
- Photochromic paper;
- Smoke matches;
- Magnesium ribbon;
- Live plants;
- Sea monkey eggs;
- And several electronics sensors including light and UV.
A live tracking page will be available the day of the flight on the Firestar mission page. After the flight this page will be updated with a list of all the flown experiments and flight video. You can also follow launch and results updates via our @marsballoon twitter account.