SIU takes part in big eclipse experiments

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Multiple research projects were coordinated at Southern Illinois University during the eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. The results could help improve how we communicate through cell phone service and other communication technologies.

At SIU, Bob Baer is the man to talk to all things eclipse. He's a physics specialist at the school, as well as co-chair for the Eclipse Steering Committee and co-investigator for the Continental American Telescopic Eclipse Experiment, or CATE for short.

Baer said that SIU took part in two major experiments focused on collecting data from the big event.

The first was the release of three weather balloons from Saluki Stadium. Two balloons were from the Louisiana Space Consortium and were equipped with around 10 data collecting instruments from a number of organizations. The third balloon was launched by Earth-to-Sky Illinois, which had one payload on it Baer said.

These balloons were set off around noon in order to be at around 80,000 feet in the air for the time of totality according to Baer. They collected multiple types of data from the sky, including pictures of the moons shadow as it crawled across the surface.

Baer took part in another, much larger experiment mentioned earlier he referred to as the Citizen CATE experiment. He said it was a big coordination of 68 telescopes across the path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina. These telescopes were manned by 'citizen-scientists' as he called them, all with the job of taking pictures of the inner corona.

Baer said that the idea was to fill in the gaps of data that satellite telescopes can't see from space, so they use images from the ground to make up for them.

"Yesterday the data collection from here as well as across the country helps out people on this earth most importantly because it can be used to improve communication," Baer said, "if we can learn more about the sun's atmosphere, we can learn more about how solar flares would interact with people's devices. Plus we live in the atmosphere of the sun so it's just a good idea to learn as much about it as we can."

The data from both experiments is still being compiled an analyzed.

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