Using Kilometers and Meters Instead of Miles and Feet

For our first launch, we reported all our height data in feet, because in the United States, that’s what most people are used to.  Our ballooncraft got up to over 78,000 feet, or to be more precise, it reached a maximum height of 78,471 feet.

However, our flight computer actually measured height using the metric system, in meters.  It told us the maximum height was 23,918 meters; we converted it to 78,471 feet.  It also measured temperature in Celcius and pressure in Pascals.

When we visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, we learned that they had switched everything to the Metric System instead of the English or Imperial system, which most of the United States still uses.  It turns out there are apparently only three countries in the world who don’t use the Metric System: Liberia, Burma, and the United States.  We don’t understand why we don’t use the Metric System. 10, 100, 1000 seems so much easier.

The JPL engineers told us that in 1999, there was a spacecraft that went to Mars, but when they tried to put it into orbit, it crashed because one of the parts was made using English measurements while everything else was made using Metric measurements.  Oops!

So, from now on, we’re going to try to use the Metric system for our launches because that’s what all the space agencies use.  Maybe we’ll provide both figures so the people who use the English system will understand what we’re talking about.


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