Record for student projects in REXUS/BEXUS

Published: 24 February 2017

Luleå University of Technology has three student projects admitted to the same REXUS/BEXUS campaign – a unique achievement for a university. – The project is by far the coolest thing we've done during our education, says Alexander Korsfeldt Larsén, Space Engineering Student and spokesperson for the project IRIS.

The student instrument SALACIA has already been accepted for the REXUS programme. The goal of that experiment is to investigate how salts behave during a rocket ride, and the project is thus somewhat of a pilot study for the future Mars experiment HABIT. The rocket launch will take place in March.

– Everything is going great with SALACIA. The instrument has been ready for a while and in November we passed the Experiment Acceptance Review, says project leader and Space Engineering student Elias Krantz.


Now two more experiments from Luleå University of Technology have been admitted to the BEXUS programme: IRIS (Infra-Red albedo measurments In the Stratosphere) and EXIST (Examination of infrasound in the Stratosphere and Troposphere). The balloons will be released from Esrange Space Center in early October.

– It feels incredible to be admitted; one can hardly believe it's true. Now we really get the chance to use everything we have learned during the education. The project is by far the coolest thing we've done during our studies, says Alexander Korsfeldt Larsén, spokesperson for IRIS and Space Engineering student.

Future climate models

The objective of IRIS is to use sensors for different wavelengths to measure incoming sunlight, and compare it with the light reflected from below the earth's surface.

– We will get information about how much light is reflected from different surfaces; such as snow, bare ground and clouds, and how the atmospheric layers affect the light, Alexander Korsfeldt Larsén explains and continues:

– Because of its white color, snow has a very high reflection factor. Sunlight that is not reflected is instead absorbed by the surface. When snow-covered areas melt and is replaced by bare ground, the soil surface become warmer. With our measurements, we hope to contribute to improved climate models in the future.

Listen to infrasound

The other BEXUS experiment, EXIST, is about listening to infrasound in the atmosphere. Two microphones mounted on a cable that runs between the balloon and the car in which the payload is, will capture the infrasound. The idea is that if it is possible to measure infrasound high up in the atmosphere, the chances are that it is also possible on for example the surface of Mars. On Mars, the pressure is the same as 20 kilometers into the Earth's atmosphere.

 – Since the experiment requires very special microphones; they must cope with temperatures down to minus 70 degrees Celsius and measure noise in low pressure, we collaborate with a research group at Kochi University of Technology in Japan. We use prototypes of their microphones and they on the other hand get to test their microphones in real conditions, says Max Nilsson, spokesperson for EXIST and also a Space Engineering student.

What is it like to work in a large project like this?

– It is very fun, we learn many new things that we really need to understand. While studying, you learn a lot of theory. In this project, you get to apply the knowledge. BEXUS gives us the balloon, the rest is up to us, says Max Nilsson and Alexander Korsfeldt Larsén agrees:

– This is for real and our result may actually help climate research forward. Compared to memorize before a math exam, this is much more motivating!

Three projects – unique achievement

It is the first time that a university has three student projects during the same REXUS/BEXUS campaign. Mathias Milz and Thomas Kuhn, both Associate Professors of Atmospheric Science, supervise the student projects. They believe that the university's success with REXUS/BEXUS is due to the fact that the university's space programmes correspond well with the purpose and goals of REXUS/BEXUS.

– The students often have their own project ideas, inspired by courses they’ve taken. We try not to control them too much and it works well because the students are very motivated, says Thomas Kuhn.

– And it's a really fun job – not only for students but also for us supervisors, says Mathias Milz.

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