NASA-- Last month, when the sun unleashed the most intense radiation storm since 2003, peppering satellites with charged particles and igniting strong auroras around both poles, a group of high school students in Bishop, California, knew just what to do.

They launched a rubber chicken.

The students inflated a helium balloon and used it to send the fowl, named Camilla, to an altitude of 120,000 ft where she was exposed to high-energy solar protons at point blank range.

Many space enthusiasts already know Camilla as the mascot of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. With help from Stanford University's Romeo Durscher, Camilla corresponds with more than 20,000 social media followers.

Camilla's trip to the stratosphere gave us a chance to talk to thousands of people about the radiation storm, Durscher said.

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