Cubes in Space

Student in Physical Science Research I at the Bronx High School of Science

2016 Cubes in Space selected project

Bronx, NY & Fort Sumner, NM

September 2016-June 2017

Design

Cubes in Space is an international research program to design unique experiments that must fit into a 40mm cube. Selection was based on the quality of a submitted research proposal. In 2016, the cubes were launched into space on a high altitude balloon from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The proposal can be found here.

My team developed a method to use bellows as an airtight seal to trap CO2 from the upper atmosphere

I created a CAD model of my team's cube in SketchUp

The payload was designed to determine whether a small, simple device would be able to measure CO2 in the upper atmosphere, without being contaminated by CO2 from lower altitudes. Brass bellows, after testing in a bell jar, were used as a seal for a hole in the top of the cube, and CO2 indicator strips were placed inside the experimental cube to detect CO2. 

At ground pressure, the bellows fully covered the hole, preventing CO2 from entering the cube. When the cube was elevated into the low pressure of the atmosphere, the blocks separated and allowed the CO2 indicator strips to accurately measure CO2 in the atmosphere. When the cube was brought back down to the higher pressure earth, the blocks pushed together and resealed the cube from CO2. Important techniques used in this experiment were 3D printing, CAD, and soldering.

Testing

We tested the bellows in a bell jar to determine how they expanded and contracted under pressure differences

The final cube design

Launch!

The cubes were launched from on a high altitude balloon from the NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

Cubes in Space

The balloon payload ready for launch

Cubes in Space

All of the cubes stored in the payload

Cubes in Space

The high altitude balloon launching from New Mexico

BIG Idea Challenge

© Natasha Stamler 2020