Loyola University Chicago

Mathematics and Statistics

Mathematics and Statistics Colloquium (April 11)

Speaker: Frank Baginski (https://math.columbian.gwu.edu/frank-e-baginski)

Affiliation: George Washington University, Department of Mathematics

When: April 11, 2024 from 4 to 5pm

Location: IES 110

Title: The Shape of a High Altitude Balloon 

Abstract: Much of the research in the upper stratosphere (35 km and above)  is conducted using large scientific balloons. These balloons are not to be confused with their tiny cousins,  weather balloons. The payload of a large scientific balloon can be several thousand pounds.  The largest balloon is roughly 130 meters tall with a diameter of 160 meter.  A typical balloon is constructed from 40 micron polyethylene (i.e., sandwich bag thickness).   In the analysis of these unique structures, a number of interesting mathematical questions arise. What is the shape of the balloon at float altitude ? How is the shape designed? How is the balloon system launched?   Will it deploy into the desired shape? The workhorse for NASA's Balloon Program is the  (onion shaped) zero-pressure balloon. A newcomer is the (pumpkin shaped) super-pressure balloon. The answers to these and related questions lead to some interesting mathematical problems that will be discussed during the talk.

Bio: Frank Baginski received his Ph.D in Applied Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1985 and is Professor of Mathematics at George Washington University. He has collaborated with mathematicians, engineers, and physicists on modeling high altitude large scientific balloons,  aerodynamic decelerators, and large-aperture reflectors.