Pellissippi State Community College is one of just 55 educational institutions across the United States that will participate in a high-altitude ballooning experiment – sponsored by NASA – during the upcoming total solar eclipse, and the college will host a viewing party and community event to mark the eclipse.
The total solar eclipse will move from the west coast to the east coast throughout the day of Aug. 21. The moon’s shadow will come between earth and the sun at approximately 2 p.m. in East Tennessee. It’s the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1918.
Pellissippi State is one of three colleges in Tennessee that are participating in the NASA-sponsored effort.
Pellissippi State will launch a high-altitude balloon to gather data and conduct experiments during the two-minute window of the total eclipse. Video from the balloon of the eclipse will be streamed live to NASA’s website.
Additionally, a viewing party and community event will be held at the Blount County Campus from noon-3 p.m. The free event, called Tailgating in Totality, will include food trucks, games and activities for children – plus a live stream from Pellissippi State’s high-altitude balloon.
Faculty advisors are Lynn Klett, instructor in engineering and media technologies, and Jerry Sherrod, associate professor in business and computer technology.
Klett and Sherrod have been working with the students on the high-altitude ballooning team – as well as students in their classes – not only to discuss the project, but to design experiments, improve the payload structure and create predictive algorithms for the device’s retrieval.
The high altitude ballooning effort is being funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium.
Info: www.pstcc.edu/cae or call 865-694-6400.