Rushville Republican

News

May 9, 2008

Science experiment makes local landing

Descending stratospheric test lands on vehicle

Wednesday afternoon, as Rushville resident Ryan Fields was driving on U.S. 52 east of town, a science project from a state university made an unplanned landing on the hood of his vehicle.

“It was definitely one of the wildest things I have ever seen. I saw something pink hit the front of the truck and I looked in the rearview mirror, because usually things go underneath the vehicle. I noticed I had a parachute draped over the back of the truck. My dog was going nuts in the front seat. I stopped, picked it up, and saw DePauw University on the box so I called them up,” Fields said.

What Fields did not know at the time was that by a chance of fate and wind currents he had became an unwitting participant in a scientific test that began at an intermediate school in Greencastle earlier in the morning, when DePauw Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dr. Howard L. Brooks and others released the Balloon Assisted Stratospheric Experiment. The project was launched from Tzouanakis Intermediate School a few hours earlier and was being tracked by Brooks and an assistant.

Aided by a GPS device enclosed in the experiment, the trackers on the ground were within a half-mile of the location on U.S. 52 west of CR 300S when the package touched down.

Brooks indicated that he had a visual on the descending experiment as it was about a half-mile from the ground when he and his assistant lost sight of it.

“A short time later, the college called and said ‘We found your experiment, a Ryan Fields has it.’ They gave me Ryan’s phone number and here we are,” a smiling Brooks said as re reclaimed his prized test.

According to Brooks, the Physics and Astronomy program of which BASE is a major component uses helium weather balloons as a means to carry scientific experiments into the stratosphere.

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