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NASA, the search for microplastics reaches the stratosphere

NASA, the search for microplastics reaches the stratosphere

the NASAin collaboration with the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) – one of Mexico's largest public universities – and the US National Science Foundation, planned a suborbital mission Identify pollutants present in the stratosphereespecially Microplastics.

The research project (renamed Mission FY25) will take place between the end of this year and the beginning of 2025 and includes the use of… Modulo EMIDSS-6 (Experimental Module for Iterative Design of Satellite Subsystems), an experimental platform developed by Ipn and equipped with Surround imaging Which will allow Identify pollutants in the air Analysis of the various components of the stratospheric environment a Low latitudes.

Task A will follow An orbital flight lasting 15 daysUse High pressure balloons (Spb), special vehicles capable of remaining in the air for several months, even at high altitudes. The starting point will be there McMurdo rulelocated at the southern end ofRoss Island In Antarcticaa facility managed by the United States Antarctic Program, is intended for scientific reseach. The EMIDSS-6 module will be able to do this Collect and store data To develop graphs and survey the stratospheric environment at different latitudes. Furthermore, environmental variables will be documented through ground sensors Measure humidity, temperature and UV radiation.

Mario Alberto Mendoza BárcenasThe researcher at the Aeronautical Development Center (Cda) at the Mexican University and the project leader explained that High pressure system In the polar region it creates a special atmospheric formation over Antarctica, which will allow balloons Maintain a constant height For longer periods.

Cooperation between NASA and EBN It's part of Scientific balloon program Launched by the US Space Agency in The sixties. The goal of the project is to provide a service to research centers and universities around the world Launching drone balloons For scientific research and exploration at high altitudes. They are launched every year Between 10 and 15 tasks From bases in New Zealand, Antarctica, Sweden and the United States.

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to'Ipn has been part of this program since 2019. In September last year, the Mexican university successfully participated in the FY23-FTS mission with the EMIDSS-4 module, which was launched from Fort Sumner, located in New Mexico, United States. Even in this case, the aim of the research was Collecting information about weather variables And testing the performance of the two computer devices developed by the university.

The results of this testing will be used to improve the design of the devices that will be used in Space mission TEPEU-1It is a Mexican project that focuses on studying the ionosphere and its relationship with the ionosphere Astronautical phenomena. The results were also used to improve modeling ITISAT-1And Low orbit satellite Which will be used to obtain the images for Forest fire prevention In the Biosphere reserve “La Primavera”.It is a protected natural area covering more than 300 square kilometers in western Mexico.

This article previously appeared on Wired in Spanish.