We teamed up with the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory for sending a Kitsat up to stratosphere at the moment of summer solstice.
The flight took of from top of an arctic hill called Luosto near Sodankylä, far above the polar circle, on 20 June 2020 at 22:30. The balloon took Kitsat up to 31 km altitude and the wind blew it about 80 km southwest from Luosto.
The weather was as good as it can be: cloudless sky and almost 20°C during the night (yes, Sun was shining for the whole night and we were wearing sunglasses still at 4 am).
After the launch, made after an OK from the Air Traffic Control, we had contact with the satellite all the time and managed to control and command it during the flight. We took also photos with the camera and the feeling when receiving the photos from the satellite flying in the stratosphere was just like talking with a satellite – a light year from having photos from a drone or camera nearby.
The only mishap was the frost accumulating to camera's lens at one moment. Perhaps the new power system with the battery heater could be used in the future for warming up the camera as well.
The power system with two batteries, new electronics and a heater worked just like planned. With the new power system, we have more power and flexibility during the flight. On the previous flight the original power system worked fine, except there was some power cuts related to low voltage and cold.
We selected Luosto for the flight not only because it is one of the. most beautiful locations in the Finnish Lapland, but also because the Sodankylä Geophysical Obsewrvatory will use Kitsats in their public outreach, space camps and preparations for the possible satellite missions in the future.
After this summer flight another one is planned for next winter. Hopefully the COVID19 situation will allow us to travel again to Lapland in March 2021.
How about a flight under the northern lights?
Here's a short appetizer video about the flight: