The red balloons were back at Memorial Stadium Saturday, joined by a pair of higher-flying relatives.
At halftime, more than 85,000 fans watched as a trio of weather balloons, two of which equipped with cameras, GPS and sophisticated data-collection devices, were launched from the field. Astronaut and Nebraska native Clayton Anderson was on hand.
After the balloons ascended nearly 20 miles into the sky -- an area known as “near space” -- they expanded and popped, sending pods containing the cameras and tracking devices hurtling back toward the earth.
It was all part of a weeks-long science experiment by students from Nebraska grade schools and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, along with members of Nebraska 4-H.
Researchers and students will use the data collected by the sensors to study cosmic rays in the atmosphere, look at near-space photographs and break down what happened.
The goal is to pique students’ interest in science, said Brad Barker, 4-H youth development associate and professor at UNL.
“Students get excited about this,” Barker said. “It’s applying scientific inquiry to real situations.”
The balloons' flight and eventual crash southeast of Lincoln could be tracked in real time online through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website, go.unl.edu/balloon.