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Quack to the Future: York students prepare to launch Astroduck into space

Posted on 12 November 2014

Students from the University of York’s Astronomy Society are preparing to send a rubber duck into space to capture unique footage and scientific data.

Elevated into the upper atmosphere by a professional weather balloon, Astroduck will aim to acquire scientific data such as altitude, temperature and air pressure as well as valuable footage to record the flight from launch to landing.

Pitching the idea through the University’s YuStart scheme, a crowdfunding initiative where sponsors can pledge money to support new research and business ideas, students have exceeded their target of £1000. This money will pay for equipment including a GoPro camera, GPS trackers and a blackbox, in addition to a weather balloon, helium and a parachute for the duck’s soft landing after the mission.

Adam Shore, a second year undergraduate in York’s Department of Physics and project crafter, said: “This project is the first of its kind in the University's history and the amount of support we've received has been fantastic. For years now the Astronomy Society has been considering such a project and only now with the help of YuStart has this been possible.

“The first launch will hopefully be occurring during the University's Science Week, from Heslington East. Both the public and students are welcome to join us and cheer on Astroduck as he travels to where no duck has been before. Once we collect Astroduck post-flight, we will have some great HD footage and data to share with the public."

Science Week is a series of free student-run events, taking place from 16 - 22 November, open to all. Featuring events from different scientific societies from across the university, it aims to promote cross-disciplinary thinking and investigate the different ways to problem-solve facing scientists today. 

YuStart is the UK’s first bespoke university crowdfunding platform and a joint initiative between the University’s Development Office and the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU), which uses the expertise of education specialist Hubbub.

It allows members of the University to raise money from multiple donors, with participants receiving a reward, such as a t-shirt, project poster or an invitation to attend an event, in exchange for a small donation.

Following success of Astroduck’s maiden voyage, it is hoped that the equipment can be used again for further research voyages into space.

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