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PARIS acquires visual tracking capability

Sets telescopic sights on Vulture 1

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The target attached to some big drainage pipesSo, we nipped down the valley and slapped our target on some drainage pipes which had been conveniently dumped at the road junction.

Back up at the Puerto de Tornavacas, though, Alejandro's first attempt to grab the objective with a selection of binoculars made us realise we were going to need more grunt.

The reasoning behind using a pair of binoculars was that we could attach a video camera to one eyepiece, and give it plenty of zoom, while using the other eyepiece - with a wider angle of field - to track the balloon, main payload and Vulture 1 visually.

Alejandro and his mighty 'scopeThat was a non-starter, though, so cue Alejandro and his mighty Clear Vue 101 'scope (pictured) with which we were finally able to get a result.

There are a couple of things you have to bear in mind here. Atmospheric conditions were far from ideal for our test, with heat haze obscuring the view and a brisk breeze buffeting the telescope. There's a lot more dense air in a horizontal line of sight than when you're staring 20km straight up, and Vulture 1 and our meteorological balloon will also be much easier to spot against a crisp blue sky.

It has to be said, capturing an A4 sheet of cardboard from 23,000 metres was a big ask, but it's hats off to Alejandro for this view:

The target seen from 23km

We're going to keep working to refine our visual tracking capability, and will post some video of a moving target in due course. ®

Additional PARIS resources

  • Our dedicated PARIS section, with all previous updates, is right here.
  • New to PARIS? We have a basic mission summary here (pdf).
  • Our fledgling Flickr page, with all previous photos.
  • Check out our YouTube channel - currently featuring a few camera tests.

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