(ORDO NEWS) — NASA‘s Science Balloon Program is in full swing. During the 2022 autumn campaign, 6 scientific, engineering and student flights will be carried out, which will carry out 17 different missions.
The launch is scheduled from Fort Sumner, New Mexico, from mid-August to mid-October.
One balloon is already on test flight with several different technological payloads. The scientists hope to launch the remaining five balls into the launch window and support numerous scientific and technological initiatives.
“Our balloons can lift hundreds of kilograms, allowing a variety of scientific instruments, technologies and educational payloads to fly together in one balloon,” said Debbie Fairbrother, head of the Balloon Science Program in Wallops, Virginia.
The science missions participating in this campaign are observing the Aurora Sunshine (BALBOA), testing a wide field infrared camera designed to study daytime auroras, studying dust and debris in the orbit of nearby stars using the PICTURE-C coronagraph.
In addition, there will be two technology test flights for the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF).
Most of the flights will be operated by NASA balloons. Some are the size of a football stadium when fully inflated.
These balloons have open ducts to prevent pressure building up inside the balloon during gas expansion that occurs as the balloon rises above the surface of the Earth.
The flight duration of this type of balloon is usually limited to a few days due to gas losses.
NASA Science Balloons provide low-cost access to near-Earth space for payloads of up to 3,600 kilograms for technology demonstration testing, as well as scientific research in areas such as astrophysics, heliophysics, and atmospheric research.
Depending on the goals and objectives of a particular mission, the duration of a balloon flight can be from several days to several weeks for longer-term testing and data collection.
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