An Attempt to Sample Upper Atmospheric Bacteria.

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Daniel raul joseph Canales1, Bering Edgar1, Barry L Lefer2, Bonnie Dunbar1, Rachel Gamblin1, Arian Ehteshami3, Michelle Nowling1, Hamza Ahmad1, Christopher Bias1 and Megan Pena1, (1)University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States, (2)NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, United States, (3)University of Houston Clear Lake, Houston, TX, United States
Attempts have been made over the last decade to find the density and diversity of living microorganisms in the stratosphere using both air planes and zero pressure balloons. Most of the published attempts to survey stratospheric microorganisms by the scientific community have involved heavy devices that could not be used on ultralight weight balloons, making this research expensive and thereby reducing the opportunities for sampling. In this project, we attempted to find how high a light weight balloon could collect microorganisms, and to bridge scientific study with hobbyist feasibility at lower cost. Our approach was to use hobbyist level items that lower the weight so that lighter weather balloons could be used. This approach will allow more sampling possibilities while also lowering cost of study. We have conducted two successful test flights. While there were no successful samples from the upper atmosphere, the fact that the system can capture surface organisms with the fact that sensors had viable data shows that anyone with interest can help find and study atmospheric microorganisms.