Rapid industrialization has led to increase in the Ozone concentration in lower layers of the atmosphere. And, direct inhalation of the ozone causes can cause several health problems and wide spread illnesses among humans.
Five students from Oakridge International School Bangalore wanted to further examine this theory and set out on a mission with the support of SSERD and IIA to measure the Ozone concentration over the city of Bangalore.
Over the course of four months, the team consisting of Oakridgers Govind Nair, Aman Saxena, Prafulla, Rithvik Mahindra and Rahul Balaji built the required payload to accurately measure Ozone concentration in the atmosphere. To achieve this they had to import specialized sensors, which could survive extreme conditions and get accurate data. They also had to design the payload strategically such that certain sensors were exposed to a constant flow of the air, while others electronic components were safely insulated; this was one of the most challenging tasks of this mission.
The balloon was launched from CREST, in Hoskote Bangalore. The balloon traveled around 250 km from its launch site attaining a maxaltitude of 35 km which perfectly met the mission parameters. Finally, the balloon was found six days after launch around Chikamagalur. The balloon has been recovered sustaining no damage from the flight with all electronic components working perfectly and over 40 thousand data values to analyse.
"The results we found indicated that the ground level and tropospheric ozone in Bangalore is much higher than what was expected. The government in India, the US, and the WHO stipulate values ranging from 50-100 ppb as the safety standard. We concluded that the averages in Bangalore were 130 ppb for the first ten kilometres and approximately 400 ppb for the first eighteen kilometres. Furthermore, the readings we got were during night time, which is when the concentrations of ozone are least. During the daytime, these values can increase by as much as two times. This proves that the condition of air is very unhealthy, and this again relates to the general pollution problem as tropospheric and ground-level ozone is created by oxides of nitrogen and carbon," said the one of the students from the team.