Casper College and Kelly Walsh High School have been selected by NASA to participate in the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project for an annular solar eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023, and a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

On Friday, the students launched their first test balloon. According to Paul Marquard, engineering and physics instructor at Casper College, the launch is one of two or three scheduled practice launches before the October eclipse.

Much of the hardware for the launches was built during the spring 2023 semester to allow for the summer test launches. Students are composed of both Casper College and Kelly Walsh High School students, and all must be enrolled in the Casper College class ES 1490, Special Topics, High Altitude Ballooning. The class will continue into both the fall 2023 and spring 2024 semesters.

“NEBP payloads focus on either atmospheric science or engineering. Casper College is participating in the engineering category. For engineering projects, each team will launch one balloon during each eclipse, floating its 12-pound payload, which includes livestreaming cameras, at about 70,000 feet or higher,” said Marquard.

The launch, which takes approximately three to four hours, also involves following the balloon until it bursts and lands to collect the payload. “Collecting the payload can take another few hours, depending on where it lands,” Marquard noted.

According to NASA, NEBP payloads focus on either atmospheric science or engineering. All teams will participate in both eclipses, and the resulting data will be analyzed and made publicly available.


Casper College:

The Quantum Science Summer Camp for high school students and teachers will run through July 28 at Casper College. The general public is welcome and encouraged to attend the daily lecture from 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. each weekday in the Loftin Life Science Center, Room 209.

The lead instructor for the camp is M. Suhail Zubairy, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University. The camp will delve into selected principles of quantum science in the first week. The second week will examine applications of quantum science to the study of quantum biological systems.

The camp is the brainchild of Marlan Scully, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University. Scully is a laser physics pioneer, and his work includes the first quantum theory of the laser with Nobel Prize Laureate Willis E. Lamb.

“We’re really pleased to be able to support this one-of-a-kind experience here in Casper that builds on the education students are receiving and gives further opportunity to teachers and college instructors to add to their teaching of quantum science,” said Darren Divine, Ph.D., Casper College president.

In addition to Zubairy, professors and scientists from Texas A&M University’s Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering and members from the National Academy of Sciences and other world-renown scientific organizations will teach during the two-week camp.

“For over 20 years, Marlan Scully has been bringing the top researchers, scientists, and their students to Casper for a conference on quantum physics, quantum computing, quantum biophotonics, and more, said Dale Bohren, Quantum Science Camp advisory board member. “His vision to extend this opportunity to high school seniors, college students, teachers, and instructors resonated with our community partners and made this all possible,” added Bohren.

Thanks to the generous support of donors, those selected to attend the Quantum Science Summer Camp attend tuition-free and receive on-campus housing and dining at no charge during the camp program.

More information can be found at

The Quantum Science Summer Camp is funded through donations from the Wyoming Community Foundation, Wold Foundation, BOCES — Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Zimmerman Family Foundation, John P. Ellbogen Foundation, Kemmi Creek Foundation, McMurry Foundation, Tate Foundation, and the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation.

Partners include the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University, Princeton University, Marlan Scully, Casper College, and Natrona County Schools.

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