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Jonathan's Aerial Surveyor Diary Day 1 2 3

Day Three

Today we all get up really early so that we can be in place for sunrise. However, when we get to the location we find that it is getting cloudy and actually clouds are building up. What to do? We try it out. We fill the balloon and wait for the Sun to heat it. But we find that as the Sun rises and becomes hotter so do the clouds build up and obscure it!!

We pack everything away and decide to drive to another part of the desert about 30 minutes away to try there. We unpack everything at set everything up, the Sun is there and little cloud cover here which is good. The crew are ready to film and we are all ready to start. We are hanging around waiting to see when the best moment will be, to plan the filming, when all of a sudden the balloon takes off!!

It’s a fantastic moment because although we were all prepared and ready to go none of us were expecting it to go when it did!! As the Sun heated the black bin liners the air quickly heated and slowly and majestically the balloon came off the ground, lifted the weight of the payload and strings and rose elegantly into the sky! It went up about 40-50m and the little wireless camera sent back beautiful images.

Mike’s Triumph
After unexpected behaviour and the success of the balloon we go back to the mine almost as high as the balloon went. A funny, wonderful moment – and it wasn’t the last of the day.

The final challenge concerns Mike B’s experiment. He has to make a device that will extract carbon dioxide so that recycled air could be breathed safely. He sets up a complex experiment to prove his chemical filtration plant works. This is a big moment and a difficult one for all sorts of technical reasons that probably won’t come over on the program. Chemistry is often the most difficult of the Rough Science challenges as even if you can get the science to work often a lot of the real life changes are invisible on first inspection.

Mike B makes up a wonderful experiment to show as clearly as possible his challenge working. The idea is to make carbon dioxide and then use it to extinguish a candle. This experiment is repeated at the same time with an identical set up apart from that the second has a carbon dioxide filter in-line. So the candle with no filter should go out very quickly and the one with the filter should stay on for much longer. The carbon dioxide gas comes from a bottle, bubbles through water (to show it is there) and then it flows to a candle in a jam jar.

It is a nail-biting moment when it's time to film because there is only not much time to film and also because the experiment has to be built into the ending and so it’s a little tricky and complex TV wise.

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The balloon takes to the skies
Scientist Diaries

See how the rest of the team fared with this challenge: