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Total Solar Eclipse To Offer Great Learning Opportunity Monday

LOS ANGELES (   —   The total eclipse of the sun Monday will be a rare and awesome sight to see.

For others, it will also be a great learning opportunity.

Folks from NASA and other scientists are hoping to discover secrets of the universe with a closer vantage point.

Scientists will send giant balloons into the sky to get an even better view of the Great American Solar Eclipse.

ISC Professsor Michael Kezirian and his team of aerospace students are taking a balloon with them to Idaho where they will launch it. Idaho is on the eclipse's path of totality -- that's the diagonal line from coast-to-coast there the moon will completely block the sun.

"What is unique is that we have an opportunity where we can turn off the sun for a minute-and-a-half," says Kezirian.

The USC group and several other college and high school students will release balloons 100,000 feet into the air to take pictures and live stream video.

"We are also taking science measurements to understand atmospheric phenomenon that are caused by the presence of the eclipse," Kezirian says.

Astrobiologist Dr. Parag Vaishampayan -- who works with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena -- is also sending up balloons.

He says that for the moment the moon blocks the sun, the atmosphere becomes like the one on Mars. He will be testing to see if life can survive on the red planet.

"These are some of the hardiest microorganisms we have found here on earth," says Vaishampayan.

For NASA's live stream for the eclipse,click here.

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