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Archive for March, 2011

ASTRA 8 - farther, longer, higher

ASTRA 8 – farther, longer, higher

ASTRA 8 used largely the same hardware as ASTRA 7, based on an HTC Trophy smartphone running Windows Phone 7. Its goal was to push the technology demonstrated by ASTRA 7 further by exposing the vehicle to stratospheric conditions for longer and at a higher altitude.

ASTRA 8 reached a maximum altitude of just over 23,200 meters (76,115 feet) during its 2h 40′ flight. The maximum groundspeed reached by ASTRA 8 was around 45knots (~23m/s) as the balloon-borne flight train was traversing the jet stream. The above image, generated using the Microsoft Research WorldWide Telescope, shows the trajectory of ASTRA 8 as recorded by the phone (green trace) and as predicted by the balloon flight modeling software developed by the ASTRA team.

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ASTRA 7 - cloud computing from beyond the cloud

ASTRA 7 – cloud computing from beyond the cloud

ASTRA 7 was designed to demonstrate the feasibility of using a low-powered, lightweight commodity device (an HTC Trophy running Windows Phone 7) as a data logger, communications link and a portal to high performance computing resources in the cloud (through Windows Azure).

ASTRA 7 reached a maximum altitude of 18,237 meters during its 1h 16′ flight. The Segoz Logger apprunning on the WP7 operated, as designed, throughout the flight, providing location notifications to Windows Azure when in GSM range (with the Azure worker re-computing the forecast landing site each time). The maximum speed reached by ASTRA 7 was around 90mph, logged at an altitude of 10.1km, as the balloon-borne flight train was traversing the jet stream. ASTRA 7 landed 46.6 miles downrange (very close to the pre-flight prediction based on the ASTRA balloon flight simulation model of 47.7 miles). ASTRA 7 also took over 1200 photos during its flight (one of which is shown above).

The launch was covered in the press by Computer Weekly (more images) and by the Guardian.

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