IPN’s First Suborbital Mission to the Stratosphere Aims to Uncover Microplastic Contamination

IPN to Join NASA Mission with Experimental Ship in Stratosphere

The National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) will embark on its first suborbital mission to the stratosphere with the Emidds-6 (Experimental Module for the Iterative Design of Satellite Subsystems version 6) in December and January. The mission is a collaboration between NASA and the United States National Science Foundation, and will depart from McMurdo Base on Ross Island near New Zealand.

Led by Mario Alberto Mendoza Bárcenas, a researcher at the Aerospace Development Center (CDA) of IPN, the Emidss-6 module will be on a special trajectory aboard super-pressure balloons (SPB). This trajectory will allow for the identification of contaminants, specifically microplastics in the stratosphere, through image capture and environmental data collection during the balloon’s flight to its maximum floating point.

The presence of a persistent high-pressure system known as the polar vortex over Antarctica will enable the Emidds-6 module to maintain a constant altitude for an extended period, allowing for valuable data collection. The module will record environmental variables using sensors to measure humidity, temperature, relative humidity, and ultraviolet radiation.

In July, the Emidss-6 module underwent technical and electromagnetic compatibility evaluations by NASA experts to ensure compliance with standards. The mission involved experts from IPN, Institutes of Applied Sciences and Technology and Engineering at National Autonomous University of Mexico, Western Institute of Technology and Higher Studies, and Molina Center for Energy and Environment.

Overall, this mission represents an important milestone in Mexican scientific exploration and positions IPN as a key player in cutting-edge research on characterizing stratospheric environments in low latitudes using advanced Mexican aerospace technology.

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