Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

NASA's Super Pressure Balloon Takes Flight From NZ

News Release: NASA's Super Pressure Balloon Takes Flight From New Zealand

NASA successfully launched its football-stadium-sized, heavy-lift super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand, at10:50 a.m. Tuesday, April 25 (6:50 p.m. April 24 in U.S. Eastern Time), on a mission designed to run 100 or more days floating at 110,000 feet (33.5 km) about the globe in the southern hemisphere's mid-latitude band.

"Following our 2015 and 2016 New Zealand missions, we've learned key lessons on the balloon design that have gone into perfecting the technology for this year's flight," said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA's Balloon Program Office chief. "I'm very proud of the team that delivered us to this point and I'm hopeful that third time's the charm for realizing 100 days of flight."

While validating the super pressure balloon technology is the main flight objective, the International Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB) payload is flying as a mission of opportunity. Also flying on the payload is a poppy in commemoration of Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in New Zealand and Australia similar to the U.S. observance of Memorial Day.

EUSO-SPB's objective is to detect ultra-high energy cosmic rays from beyond our galaxy as they penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. As these high-energy particles enter the atmosphere, they interact with nitrogen molecules in the air and create a UV fluorescence light. From its high-altitude vantage point, EUSO-SPB will look downward observing a broad swathe of the Earth’s atmosphere to detect the UV fluorescence from these deep space cosmic rays coming in from above.

“EUSO-SPB is now searching for the most energetic cosmic particles ever observed,” said Angela V. Olinto, professor at the University of Chicago and principal investigator of the project. “The origin of these particles is a great mystery that our pioneering mission will help to solve. Do they come from massive black holes at the center of galaxies? Tiny, fast-spinning pulsars? Or somewhere else?”

"The international science team is very excited to see our cosmic ray fluorescence detector lifted to suborbital space by this remarkable balloon and departing on this global journey," said Lawrence Wiencke, professor at the Colorado School of Mines and deputy principal investigator. "This balloon will give us a great view, and we are hoping for a record flight. We would especially like to thank the NASA and Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility teams for their patience, hard work, and extensive expertise that made this launch successful."

At a relatively low cost, NASA's heavy-lift balloons have been critical launch vehicles for testing and validating new technologies and science instruments to assure mission success for costlier, higher-risk follow-on spaceflight missions, said Fairbrother. Once the technology is validated, the ultimate goal of the EUSO project is to fly from an even higher altitude on the International Space Station to observe a greater atmospheric area for detecting high-energy cosmic rays.

“We are proud to once again support NASA’s scientific balloon program by demonstrating the experience and dedication needed to execute scientific balloon operations,” said John Pullen, Vice President and General Manager, Technical Services Division of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group. “The NASA/Orbital ATK team continues to deliver affordable and reliable long duration balloon flights across the world from Antarctica to New Zealand to Palestine, Texas home of the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. Our flexibility and history of success allow us to launch a variety of balloons that provide critical scientific data for new technologies and discoveries no matter the location.”

The 18.8-million-cubic-foot (532,000-cubic-meter) Super Pressure Balloon lifted off from NASA's new launch pad adjacent to Wanaka Airport carrying a suspended payload of 5,500 pounds (2,495 kilograms). The new pad along with a recently established 10-year lease with Queenstown Airport Corporation are key developments for enhancing NASA's mid-latitude, long-duration balloon flight operations in New Zealand. According to Fairbrother, future investments include a payload processing facility on-site.

"It's been a huge privilege and honor to have the NASA and SPB team back again for a third year in Wanaka," said Ralph Fegan, Wanaka Airport operations manager. “The team here at Wanaka and Queenstown Airports are excited to see what the next 10 years bring as the relationship between us grows."

As the balloon travels around the Earth, it may be visible from the ground, particularly at sunrise and sunset, to those who live in the southern hemisphere’s mid-latitudes, such as Argentina and South Africa. Anyone may track the progress of the flight, which includes a map showing the balloon’s real-time location, at:
http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/newzealand/wanaka.htm

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia manages the agency’s scientific balloon flight program with 10 to 15 flights each year from launch sites worldwide. Orbital ATK, which operates NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, provides mission planning, engineering services and field operations for NASA’s scientific balloon program. The CSBF team has launched more than 1,700 scientific balloons in the over 35 years of operation.

For more information on the balloon program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/scientificballoons

Flight tracker: Real Time LDB Data

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>

ALSO:

Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>

ALSO:

ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>

ALSO:

Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>

ALSO:

Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>

ALSO:


Telecoms: Spark Welcomes Spectrum Allocation And Prepares For 5G Rollout Over The Next 12 Months

Spark welcomes spectrum allocation and prepares for 5G rollout over the next 12 months Spark today welcomed the announcement of the direct allocation process of 5G spectrum, with the Company to be offered management rights to 60 MHz of 3.5 GHz ... More>>

ALSO:


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>

ALSO:


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Tax Changes Throw Cash Lifeline To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics: Some Indicators Pick Up As New Zealand Moves Out Of Lockdown

New Zealanders moved around more in the main centres and used more fuel and power while weekly exports held up as the country left the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown, Stats NZ said today. COVID-19 data porta l, our new webpage, includes about 40 near-real-time ... More>>

ALSO:



University Of Canterbury: Astronomers Discover The Science Behind Star Bursts That Light Up The Sky

University of Canterbury (UC) astronomers are part of an international team that has revealed how explosions on the surface of a white dwarf star can increase its brightness by thousands or millions of times making it look like a new star. For ... More>>

RNZ: International Passenger Numbers At Auckland Airport Drop 95 Percent

Auckland Airport says international passengers numbers have dropped more than 95 percent in the first 20 days of April over the year earlier. More>>

ALSO: