Click here to Skip to main content
AskARC Logo
Science and Engineering title banner




Dept. Chair:

Stuart Loucks


Science and Engineering


Dr. Rina Roy


(916) 484-8107

Astronomy is part of the general education program at American River College. The astronomy sequence includes a laboratory and complies with general education transfer requirements.


ARC students, led by ARC Astronomy Professor Paulo Afonso, worked on-location at NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) to collaborate on an astrophysics project. The four-person student team constructed a payload capable of surviving near-space conditions in addition to collecting data that will help us to better understand the polarization of gamma- and x-ray background radiation, since this in turn may help us to better understand the many sources of such radiation, including gamma ray bursts, pulsars, and active galactic nuclei.

The ARC team wrote a 47-page proposal and applied to the High Altitude Student Program (HASP) in December 2017, and was then accepted as a piggyback payload in February 2018. The team has been working on the project together for more than 16 months. HASP is hosted by NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility; payload integration occurred at the Palestine, Texas CSBF location, and launch took place Sept. 4 in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. The payload equipment has returned to the facility and the data is being analyzed.

The photo below shows the students' work in near space.

Image of equipment above Earth