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Virtual Science Fair

 Another activity of the TECAS Fellows is the development of Virtual Science Fair events and activities, hosted in our Virtual Science platform. This Virtual Science platform is the main repository of the Network, targeting the general public.

A Florentine lily in the stratosphere

The contemporary age is also called “Information Age”, due to the facility of sharing information and knowledge. As a result, high technology tools are nowadays accessible to an increasing number of nonspecialized people. Flying drones are a clear example of this phenomenon; mainly thought for military use, now they are used by common people to acquire a large variety of videos. Needless to say, they have limitations regarding the altitude and the battery life. These drones cannot reach the stratosphere, which is more than 10 Km from Earth. Oppositely, a balloon full of helium can reach more than 30 Km high.
Two years ago Tommaso Ristori (TECAS-ITN Fellow), Lorenzo Biffoli (electronics technicians), Alessio Pampaloni (aerospace engineer), and Lorenzo Maddii Fabiani (physician) decided to launch a balloon to acquire images of the Earth from the stratosphere. Knowing each other since they were three years old, they started this project driven by the need to pass time together and challenge themselves. Before the launch, they asked permission to the competent authorities, and they predicted the balloon trajectory with software available on the Internet ( The balloon was attached, by means of a nylon thread of 15 m, to a Styrofoam box containing a GoPro video camera and a GPS tracker, both powered with a hand-made battery supplement. The video camera filmed the raise of the balloon up to the stratosphere and the successive landing, while the GPS tracker allowed the localization of the box after the landing. In a site close to Florence (Italy), the balloon was filled with 3 mq of helium and then launched. According to predictions, it reached 32 Km from Earth before the breakage caused by its expansion, resulting from low atmospheric pressure at high altitude. Its landing was then possible because of a parachute manufactured using the remains of a recycled umbrella. Finally, the balloon was recovered in a forest close to Cortona (AR, Italy). The result of this flight is represented by a series of breathtaking images from the middle of the stratosphere, depicting the Earth and a curious Lego man who is walking towards a flag with the red Florentine lily representing passion, inventiveness, and spirit of belonging.


The authors of this video are now working on other projects, but they are also looking for new ones involving space balloons. This kind of balloons could be cheap solutions to bring light loads to extreme conditions (temperature and altitude), and they could be valuable for research studies. Therefore, we invite the readers to contact Tommaso Ristori in case of new ideas. In the meantime, please enjoy the video available on this website.

For more information please contact Tommaso Ristori:

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TECAS-ITN End-of-Network Conference

 Padua, November 28-30, 2016

The TECAS-ITN European Doctoral Academy in Regenerative Engineering, is organising the End-of-Network Conference in Padua, Italy.

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