Giant Swedish space balloon fizzes out: space center

Jul 07, 2011
A handout released by the Esrange Space Center (SSC) shows a balloon carrying a solar telescope at the Esrange Space Center near Kiruna. Swedish scientists were forced to halt a ground-breaking project to test the impact of stars when the balloon began leaking helium.

Swedish scientists were forced to halt a ground-breaking project Thursday to test the impact of stars when a balloon carrying an X-ray telescope began leaking helium, a space centre said Thursday.

"We sent it up without any problems, but then we were forced to take it down. It was leaking, and when a balloon leaks it loses height," said Johanna Bergstroem-Roos of the Esrange Space Centre, near Kiruna in northern Sweden.

"These things happen," she told AFP.

The PoGOLite (Polarised Gamma-ray Observer), a two-tonne telescope dangling from an enormous balloon filled with one million cubic metres of was launched at 1:57 am (2357 GMT Wednesday) from Esrange and was brought back to earth shortly after 7:00 am.

Space centre officials could not say exactly how far the balloon had gone, only saying it "did not go very far" and never made it past the mountain range on the Swedish-Norwegian border.

It had reached an altitude of about 35 kilometres (22 miles), just short of its 38-kilometre altitude goal.

The PoGoLite's aim was to study the emitted by , pulsars and black hole systems.

It was meant to drift on westward winds to Norway and onto Iceland, Greenland and Canada, scientists said on the project's website.

They even hoped for the balloon to make it all the way around the by continuing "the flight over Alaska and onwards over Russia, returning to Sweden some 20 days" after the launch.

"We reached 35 kilometres. We are hugely disappointed, and are hoping that the gondola is intact," the scientists said on PoGoLite's website, www.particle.kth.se/pogolite/ .

Bergstroem-Roos said the cause of the failure causes had to be investigated before another launch attempt could be made, adding it was unclear how much time that could take.

Explore further: Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mars technology on balloon to study the atmosphere

Apr 16, 2008

“From Mars to the Earth and back” is the theme when the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and University of Bern in Switzerland build and launch a mass spectrometer ...

Space tourism from Sweden to start in 2012

Mar 18, 2009

Short tourist flights into space are expected to begin launching from northern Sweden in 2012, one of the companies involved in the project said Wednesday.

Giant NASA balloon crashes in Australia

Apr 29, 2010

A giant NASA science balloon crashed during take-off in Australia Thursday, destroying its multi-million-dollar payload, toppling a large car and narrowly missing frightened observers.

OSU students build and launch a sensor into space

Aug 11, 2008

Students from OSU's Radiation Physics Laboratory built and successfully launched a cosmic radiation detector this summer that reached the edge of outer space. Carried by a helium-filled balloon 12 inches ...

Searching the heavens -- GLAST

May 01, 2008

A new space mission, due to launch this month, is going to shed light on some of the most extreme astrophysical processes in nature - including pulsars, remnants of supernovae, and supermassive black holes. It could even ...

Recommended for you

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

5 hours ago

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

7 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks. Their study, published ...

Let's put a sailboat on Titan

10 hours ago

The large moons orbiting the gas giants in our solar system have been getting increasing attention in recent years. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the only natural satellite known to house a thick atmosphere. ...

Image: Rosetta's Philae lander snaps a selfie

11 hours ago

Philae is awake… and taking pictures! This image, acquired last night with the lander's CIVA (Comet nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer) instrument, shows the left and right solar panels of ESA's well-traveled ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

(Phys.org) —Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks. Their study, published ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

Let's put a sailboat on Titan

The large moons orbiting the gas giants in our solar system have been getting increasing attention in recent years. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the only natural satellite known to house a thick atmosphere. ...

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.