NASA's Super Pressure Balloon Aims To Detect Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays In Space
(Photo : NASAWallops/YouTube screenshot)
NASA's giant stadium-sized Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) is designed to carry a telescope that could detect ultra-high energy cosmic rays from nearby space. It is supposed to be launched on Monday at Wanaka, New Zealand, yet it was postponed due to the poor weather. This is the fifth attempt in launching the Super Balloon Pressure.
NASA stated that the wind direction on Monday shifted toward the west. They have waited for hours for the winds to align. Gabe Garde, the mission director, said that they were as close as they have ever been in this campaign for launching. On the other hand, the wind direction just did not support in bringing the balloon out and starting inflation operations.
The launching and flight test's goal is to validate the SPB technology that will have a long-duration flight at mid-latitudes. If launching is successful, it will journey for 100 days to gather scientific data from the nearby space. NASA is now evaluating the weather if it will support another launch attempt, according to New Zealand Herald.
Meanwhile, Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB) by University of Chicago will also launch the 2017 SPB test flight. Likewise, the EUSO-SPB is also conceptualized to identify high-energy cosmic rays from the outside of the Milky Way.
A super pressure balloon is a type of aerostatic balloon that when fully inflated is like a size of a football stadium. Its volume is stored moderately constant in any changes of temperature of the contained lifting gas that keeps the balloon stable height for a period. These balloons are used for unmanned scientific experiments in the upper atmosphere.
NASA launched an SPB at a height of 110,000 feet for 32 days from New Zealand in March 2015. On the other hand, it generated a leak and landed in Australia.