NASA Super-TIGER balloon shatters flight record

Jan 24, 2013
A NASA long-duration balloon has broken the record for longest flight by a balloon of its size. Credit: NASA

(Phys.org)—Flying high over Antarctica, a NASA long duration balloon has broken the record for longest flight by a balloon of its size.

The record-breaking balloon, carrying the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (Super-TIGER) experiment, has been afloat for 46 days and is on its third orbit around the .

"This is an outstanding achievement for 's Astrophysics balloon team," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Keeping these huge balloons aloft for such long periods lets us do forefront science that would be difficult to do otherwise."

Super-TIGER is flying a new instrument for measuring the rare heavy elements among the flux of high-energy bombarding the Earth from elsewhere in our . The information retrieved from this mission will be used to develop an understanding where these energetic are produced and how they achieve their very high energies.

Super-TIGER launched Dec. 8, 2012, from the long duration balloon site near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The massive 39-million cubic foot scientific balloon carries the 6,000 pound Super-TIGER payload—equivalent to a large sports utility vehicle—at a float altitude of 127,000 feet, more than four times the altitude of most . Size-wise, more than 200 blimps could fit inside the balloon.

The Super-TIGER flight shattered the previous record of 41 days and 22 hours, previously set in 2005. The Super-TIGER team plans to fly for another 8-10 days to have it fly closer to McMurdo Station before terminating the flight and recovering the experiment.

"It has taken eight years, but we are so excited about breaking the long duration balloon record. In addition, it looks like the Super-Tiger flight, which is still collecting , will raise the bar by a week or two," said Debora Fairbrother, chief of the Scientific Balloon Program Office at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The long duration balloon site at Willy Field, McMurdo Station, takes advantage of the stratospheric anti-cyclonic wind pattern circulating from east to west around the South Pole. The stratospheric wind circulation combined with the sparsely populated continent of Antarctica allows for long duration balloon flights at altitudes above 100,000 feet.

The National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs manages the U.S. Antarctic Program and provides logistic support for all U.S. scientific operations in Antarctica. The NSF Antarctic Support Contractor provides material support to the NASA Program, including support of launch and recovery operations throughout the Antarctic Campaign.

The principal investigator of the Super-TIGER mission is Dr. Walter Binns of Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

More information: To monitor the real time flight tracks of the long duration balloons on the Internet, visit: www.csbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice.htm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New Balloon Successfully Flight-Tested Over Antarctica

Jan 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA and the National Science Foundation have successfully launched and demonstrated a newly designed super pressure balloon prototype that may enable a new era of high-altitude scientific ...

Scientific balloon launches from Antarctica

Dec 22, 2010

NASA and the National Science Foundation launched a scientific balloon on Monday, Dec. 20, to study the effects of cosmic rays on Earth. It was the first of five scientific balloons scheduled to launch from ...

NASA scientific balloons to return to flight

Dec 16, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's scientific balloon program is resuming flights this month after an extensive evaluation of its safety processes following a mishap during an April launch attempt from Australia. NASA's high-altitude ...

Recommended for you

SpaceX launches supplies to space station (Update)

3 hours ago

The SpaceX company returned to orbit Friday, launching fresh supplies to the International Space Station after more than a month's delay and setting the stage for urgent spacewalking repairs.

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

3 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

5 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

6 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

9 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...