A dedicated team of Temple Engineering students will have a front row seat to today's eclipse as they launch a high-altitude research balloon up to about 100,000 feet above the Earth to capture the rare phenomena in its entirety!

The students have been involved in this design-first project, blending the teams' skills to see an engineering project from idea to prototype to completion for two semesters and have visited Temple University Ambler to practice their balloon launch (see gallery images) before the big day. Today's launch will take place near Erie, Pennsylvania, right in the path of totality.

The balloon will begin its skyward ascent at about 1:30 p.m. today. By capturing and distributing video footage of the eclipse, the team hopes to promote scientific curiosity and engage future engineers and scientists across the globe. Images and video from the launch will be shared after the balloon's payload of research equipment is recovered and the data has been examined and processed.

Preparing for launch will take a few hours, according to Electrical and Computer Engineering major Lloyd Yoo.

"First, the team will set up a ground station a few hundred yards away from the actual launch site. The ground station will serve as the main control point for all systems aboard the ballooning payloads, allowing us to communicate with those systems during flight," he said. "About an hour before launch, the team will fill the high-altitude balloon with helium and attach our payloads — camera and GPS tracking systems. Once launched, the balloon will ascend to the upper stratosphere while the team monitors its position from the ground."

In addition to Yoo, the student team includes Alexa Sano (Mechanical Engineering), John Nori (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Jon Isely (Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Brandon Vaalburg (Electrical Engineering). Their faculty advisor for the project is Dr, John Helferty, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

According to Yoo, while viewing from the ground is an exciting experience, "high-altitude ballooning allows us to see the eclipse from a much different perspective."

"For instance, our Insta360 camera will allow us to see the moon's 'umbra' (shadow) traverse the Earth's surface as the eclipse happens," he said. "Those viewing from the ground may have their vision of the eclipse impaired by cloud coverage, precipitation and light pollution. Our project will provide a unique view of the eclipse that is impossible to experience from the ground."