Earth Day Moonshot
Climate change. Environmental degradation. Pollution. Extinction. All these bleak and troublesome words perfectly encapsulate a source of anxiety for many in our younger generation.
I am part of a group called Fridays For Future Houston, a chapter of the Fridays For Future movement protesting inaction on climate change. We wanted to do more this Earth Day to raise awareness for the environment. We decided to send a picture of the last male northern white rhino, moments before his 2018 death, 104,000 feet above sea level to capture his visage with our planet’s hue in view. Through our student-led “Earth Day Moonshot,” we wanted to illustrate why we must address climate change and environmental destruction; as Greta Thunberg says, “There is no Planet B.”
It was no easy feat. Arriving at 5:30 a.m. at a public park in Luling, TX, we spent 25 minutes working in the dark to untangle our 50 ft-long flight line. Although it took another hour securing everything with duct tape and super glue, adding heat packs to keep the GoPro warm, inflating the balloon, and coordinating with the FAA and ATC, we were able to get it airborne by 7:37 a.m., as the sun rose.
The balloon rose slower than expected due to the extra duct tape added for security, before bursting at 104,000 ft at 10:48 a.m. The payload box (with photo attached and camera inside) then parachuted back to Earth. It almost landed at Clear Lake, before taking a sharp U-turn due to wind and landing in a tree near Johnson Space Center. My colleague Vaughn Holmes then retrieved it with a grappling hook. By 12:37 p.m., our mission was complete.
The message we sent up featured a quote by Sir David Attenborough, who has dedicated his career to documenting the natural world and recently turned 97. Having witnessed the drastic changes that have transpired in his own lifetime, his message to this generation is simple: “What happens next is up to every one of us.”
Editor’s note: If you are a student who wants to get involved with Fridays For Future Houston, see fridaysforfuture.org.
Want to be a Buzz Kid? Email approximately 350 words, a high-resolution photo and caption to [email protected]. Or mail it to The Buzz Magazines, 5001 Bissonnet, Suite 100, Bellaire, Texas 77401.
Want more buzz like this? Sign up for our Morning Buzz emails.
To leave a comment, please log in or create an account with The Buzz Magazines, Disqus, Facebook, or Twitter. Or you may post as a guest.