Aerocene Explorer London


Measuring and sensing life-in-the-air using an Aerocene Explorer in London. Launch planned for beginning of 2018. Let’s arrange it here :slight_smile:


Hello everyone, I hope we can do many Aerocene launches in London!

At the moment, I am planning a launch with my 45 third year undergraduate students on February 7th at 11am at Royal Holloway University! I hope to launch two Aerocene sculptures with this class. I would love suggestions on how to arrange to launch two Aerocene sculptures together (I only have one at my house at the moment) as well as how to engage the students. And it would be amazing if people wanted to join us! I will provide coffee and snacks :slight_smile:

My idea at the moment is to arrange the class in two halves, one for each Aerocene sculpture. I would like all the students to be involved in the launches in some way. So I thought to let them choose a partner and take on certain responsibilities: for example, there should be a weather prediction team, a site-location team, an inflation team, a payload team, a Garmin flight tracker team, a knot team, a piloting team, a deflation team, etc etc. When the students are waiting for the membranes to warm or when they are not actively involved in the launch, I will invite them to document the launch with photographs, videos, and any other cool ideas they have.

These are my early ideas, if you have any thoughts or comments let’s chat !


@sasha Wicked!!! :grinning:


Amazing. All this sounds super interesting! @sasha what course is this (I’m so jealous), or are they doing it separately from Royal Holloway? I am curious to hear about their expectations, and ideas, and possible experiments tryouts prior to the launch. Maybe they would like to become part of the forum too, and share what they think already?


@camilla this is the “Atmospheres: Nature, Culture, Politics” course that I am teaching for third year undergraduates. It hasn’t started yet - it will begin on January 10th and run through the end of March. I will think about your idea to ask them to contribute to the forum… I am sure at least a few of them will be interested to do this , but I won’t know until I meet them in January…


Hey guys, I’m new here an haven’t gotten my first sculptor in the air. I’m from India, I’m launching it in or before january as my first endevour with it while I find a location for it too. I was wondering, if anyone here is interested in the Idea of having a simultaneous launch of their Aero Sculptors at different places on earth on the same day? It would be at different hours on that day cycle and would follow the sun so to say in inflating each of the balloons on earth at a different time based on where it is prominent the most and on which part of earth. It could be a global circle of flights making a round trip around earth. This would be proof of solar global flight in a way even though it is without the same sculptor, but with the same Idea and source of energy.


@hrishic what an amazing idea! We have been working on a similar idea, which we call the “Day of independence from fossil fuels”, in which we all launch our balloons and by creating different aeroglyphs, we sign our commitment with a clean atmosphere future. Quoting a few words from @camilla:

In a world of tumultuous geopolitical relations where pollution is spreading wide and fast, launching aerosolar spheres can be a way of reclaiming our collective ownership of the atmosphere as a place to imagine a carbon-free future.

I would like to propose to continue developing this idea on a specific thread, which I have just updated (it was in spanish before):

And leave this thread available for @sasha and her friends to continue planning their London Aerial Adventures :slight_smile:


Ofcourse, @Joaquin. Thanks for the english update on the post, I’m afraid google translate wasn’t doing much good.
It was great to hear about the Royal Holloway @sasha, my Sister is at the Literature and Cultures department, I’ve asked her to get in touch with you too. Looking forward to hearing more updates and posts about the Project and wishing smooth sailing towards the sky!


@sasha Cool no prob of course. Yes that’d be great!! :slight_smile:


Hi everyone -
@HrishiC your idea for a simultaneous Aerocene launch around the world is amazing! I would love to participate with a sculpture flying in London… although the weather conditions here are rarely ideal! And I would be happy to meet your sister - I wonder if we have already met somehow

On the London topic, I heard back from Carlo Rizzo recently that he will bring another Aerocene sculpture to the launch I am coordinating with my students in February


Dear Sasha,

Great to hear that you planning a launch. I will be traveling at the beginning of February and not take part at a launch on the 7th Feb. If you would like to try some algal sampling i could probably send you some tape. The tape could be attached somewhere on the Aerocene sculpture, or the tape could attached in the side of a small open plastic container.



Dear @Anne,
That would be great! Thank you! And I think it would be very interesting for my students to decide how / where to attach the tape.
If possible, could you also inform me of some materials on algal air sampling that I can use to contextualize this experiment for the students?
Thanks again,

PS: my University mail address is:
Sasha Engelmann
Department of Geography
Royal Holloway University
Egham Hill, Egham TW20 0EX


Excellent! @sasha


Dear @sasha,

We have used an adhesive tape called Fungi-Tape to collect material from surfaces in the past. The tape could potentially be attached somewhere on the AHarding2010onlinefirst.pdf (1.4 MB)
erocene sculpture:

Another option would be to insert the tape in a sterile plastic tube (falcon tube) and attach the open tube to the sculpture. The tape could collected after the flight, transferred into a sterile container and send to me and i will try to grow algae from it.

Another option would be to attach open plastic tubes ( e.g. falcon tubes) that contain algae growth media:

Here a recent paper on airborne Microalgae: algae grown from air sampler

My feeling would be that it would be easiest to look for viable airborne algae via culturing as it is cheap and only requires little lab work . If we would grow airborone algae from the samples, we could document them with microscopy images.

Best wishes and Happy New Year!



Dear @Anne
Thanks for these tips! I’ll do some more research with my students. I’m sure we can achieve one of these options.


Also @Anne - do let me know if / when you might mail the tape so I can look out for it in the post room. My department can reimburse the cost of postage if you would like.
More soon…


Hi Sasha @sasha
I have got the tape in my office. I will not be at the NHM until the 1 February. I could leave the tape with a student for you to pick up or post it on Monday.



Hi @Anne

That would be excellent. I think it’s best for me to pick it up since I’m not sure it would make it in the post before the class I am teaching on Wednesday (and I’d like to introduce it on Wednesday).

Also, Grace Pappas will be working with me in the class I’m teaching this week and she is excited about the chance to use / engage with the algae tape, given her work at Tomás’ Studio last summer.

Shall I get in touch with the student directly and arrange a time for pick up?

Thanks and best wishes,



Hello Everyone,

Here are some updates on the Aerocene launch tomorrow!

This is a photo of the launch site that I took this morning at 9am. My class begins at 11am, so there will be fewer shadows… and hopefully more Sun!

Here are some snapshots from weather apps. Wednesday (tomorrow) morning looks like it will be very cold, sunny or partly cloudy, and a bit windy :-/

Plus I have some fungi + algae tape from Anne Jungblut at the Natural History Museum! Maybe we catch some airborne algae!!!

My students (I have 40) are really excited to work with the Aerocene Explorers and they will be documenting, drawing, making videos and social media posts during the launch.

If you can join please do let me know! My number is: 07833367353



Good luck and have fun!!! Finger’s crossed for :sun_with_face: Looking forward to follow your journey!