- June 1: At 8:30 AM PST, four balloons launched on the Mid-Altitude Balloon Race. In California, ARISS educator Joanne Michael and two other Space Station Explorer educators (from Magnitude.io and ISS Above) had balloons fiercely competing, with another educator’s balloon launched from Pasco, WA. Initially, the balloons headed northward and amateur radio APRS telemetry reported dropping temperatures with altitude gain. One balloon went missing—maybe in an evening storm. Others turned easterly at 27,000 feet. One’s telemetry interruptions added to the suspense. After 29.5 hours aloft, balloon KN6EQU-2 from Pasadena won the race by reporting crossing into the Eastern Time Zone near Thunder Bay, ON.
- scout master: “My scout group followed the four balloons this week and the scouts were fascinated!”
- a parent: “My 6-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy each picked a balloon and tracked them on a paper map. Morning and night, they updated the position and we spent a few minutes talking about the state or province, learning the map. It was great fun for all!”
- The race was popular on social media, with an outstanding response to Facebook posts of 14,359 Reaches. 353 individuals watched the YouTube livestream of the race’s initial 4.5 minutes (https://youtu.be/UD-rO3nKMZo), and views more than doubled, now at 783. ARISS web pages showed a phenomenal surge of interest in the race—the typical 700 daily views climbed to more than 30,000 (see chart below)! People checked how to track the competitors and the related lessons at https://www.ariss.org/mid-altitude-balloon-race.html
Below: 1) ARISS web page stats, 2) map of competing balloons
Huge Increase in ARISS Web Page Views, Visits
- June 4: The ARISS US executives have worked for many weeks to transform from a working group to a legal entity, and are pleased to report that ARISS-USA is a new non-profit corporation. The ARISS team composed and distributed a news release about the achievement. In it, ARISS heartily thanked its sponsors for the steadfast support given to the ARISS program and its ideals to bring the wonders of space into the hearts and minds of students worldwide. ARISS aims to continue to earn high regards from those sponsors.
- May 26: ARISS teacher Melissa Pore finished the school year for Arlington, VA’s Bishop O’Connell High School by e-teaching all of her classroom students more real-life lessons on communications. They reviewed their 2018 ARISS contact and observed that there was almost no noticeable delay in speech during their ARISS contact while other communication types have a 2-3 second delay. The Engineering Club will continue lessons through summer. They had a social-distanced Star Party and then summer meetings will begin with a series of STEM speakers—the first, on the NASA Dragonfly Mission to Titan.
- June 2: The weekly W5KUB Amateur Radio Roundtable online podcast featured ARISS teacher Joanne Michael as a special guest to talk about the excitement generated by the Mid-Altitude Balloon Race supported by ARISS. Other presenters spoke on high-altitude and long-duration balloons and ones that travel around the world. The podcast was simulcast on WBCQ.
ARISS Social Media
Facebook in May 2020
Instagram: As of May 31, 2020, total Instagram Followers have increased to 150.
ARISS Upcoming Events
- June 16: Social-distanced students at I.E.S. Pedro de Valdivia in Villanueva de la Serena, Spain will speak with Chris Cassidy during an ARISS contact.