Seniors present solar eclipse balloon launch findings to WV Space Grant Consortium


Submitted Photo

Marshall seniors (from left to right) Derek Staley and Jacob Staggs setting up the balloon to be launched into the sky in Illinois to take photos of the solar eclipse.

Sebastian Morris, Reporter

Marshall students Jacob Staggs and Derek Staley, both senior computer science majors, traveled to Charleston over the weekend to present their findings on the total solar eclipse that took place in August to the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) board of directors.

The two Marshall students were part of a larger team that travelled to Illinois in August to document the total solar eclipse with weather balloons paid for by the WVSGC.

The trip and most of the equipment were also funded by the WVSGC.

Over the summer, the team travelled to Illinois to make preparations and perform a test launch. The team operated out of the home of Marshall assistant professor of physics, John Saken.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Saken. “The balloon in terms of flight was dead perfect.”

Staley said it was a good experience overall, but recovery gave the team trouble during the test launch.

“It got stuck in an oak tree on private property, and the owner wouldn’t let us cut it down,” Staley said. “We had to hire a professional tree climber to recover it.”

The next total solar eclipse is fast approaching, and the team is already making preparations.

Their presentation over the weekend to WVSGC will help to continue the consortium’s financial support for the group’s next project with the 2024 solar eclipse.

“We will be involved with the 2024 eclipse,” Staley said. “It’s just something you don’t pass up.”

The ballooning group, along with an associated organization, MU Space, are open to Marshall students of any major or background.

Sebastian Morris can be contacted at [email protected].