Far Horizons

Design an experiment and launch it into space!

Far Horizons has a mission: bringing real space exploration down to Earth and into the hands of students, volunteers, and the public. For nine years, we have designed and built experiments with participants of all ages and sent them to the stratosphere aboard high-altitude balloons. We mentor, experiment, design, launch, and explore.

Meet The Team

Dr. Geza Gyuk founded Far Horizons in 2006 to provide students, volunteers and Adler members with a chance to participate in hand-on space exploration. He is trained as an astronomer and earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago.


Dr. Mark Hammergren co-founded Far Horizons in 2006 and has run Astro-Science Workshop in conjunction with high-altitude balloon flights ever since. His primary research is in asteroids, comets, and NEOs (Near Earth Objects).


Ken Walczak is the Far Horizons project manager. He helps keep Far Horizons running. That includes mentoring students, connecting Far Horizons with industry, and keeping the balloons running on time. He uses his experience in design, management, and a life-long passion for science for the Far Horizons mission.


Far Horizons engineer Lou Nigra spent 25 years as an electronics engineer designing radio-based systems ranging from military radar countermeasures to mobile phones. In 2012, he earned a Ph.D. in astronomy studying the interstellar medium, primarily using radio telescopes.


Michelle Nichols is the education program manager for Far Horizons. She earned a bachelor of science degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction from National-Louis University. Michelle is responsible for coordinating educational opportunities for teachers and students as part of Adler’s high-altitude ballooning and CubeSat development programs.


Cynthia Tarr is the Far Horizons lab assistant. She keeps the lab running, trains new participants, and maintains a database that tracks more than nine years of Far Horizons flights and experiments. She helps orient new participants and drafts the guides and references used on every flight. Over the past 1½ years she has helped to manage and support the FH program’s efforts toward completing its first CubeSat mission.

Where We Started

Far Horizons started in 2006 as the brainchild of astronomers Geza Gyuk and Mark Hammergren. They were excited by the opportunity high-altitude balloon missions offered as a hands-on science and engineering experience. Over the next nine years, the team grew and has since launched nearly 80 stratospheric missions with hundreds of experiments on board. Experiments are designed and built by students, volunteers, and researchers. What started as an interesting exploration by two Adler astronomers has grown to engage hundreds of students, volunteers and participants every year in nearly a dozen programs.

Where We're Going

The original dream of Far Horizons was to use high altitude balloon missions as a test bed for designing, building, and launching our own orbital satellites. The knowledge and experience from nine years of high altitude missions has lead to our first CubeSat mission proposal this year. Far Horizons is submitting a proposal to the 2015 NASA ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) program. Work has already begun and we’re looking for interested students and volunteers to join the team to make this dream a reality.

Fly with us!

Do you want to follow our high altitude balloon flights live? Check out our upcoming flight schedule. Most flights launch between 11:00 am and noon. A typical flight takes about two hours. To follow live, go to aprs.fi and enter KC9LHW-11 or KC9LIG-11 in the “Track Callsign” box during the flight. By mousing over any of the points along the flight you can see the altitude, velocity and direction of our payload!