Super-TIGER balloon breaks records while collecting data

Feb 04, 2013
Super-TIGER prepares for launch from Antarctica.

(Phys.org)—A large NASA science balloon has broken two flight duration records while flying over Antarctica carrying an instrument that detected 50 million cosmic rays.

The Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (Super-TIGER) balloon launched at 3:45 p.m. EST, Dec. 8 from the Long Duration Balloon site near McMurdo Station. It spent 55 days, 1 hour, and 34 minutes aloft at 127,000 feet, more than four times the altitude of most and was brought down to end of the mission on Friday. Washington University of St. Louis managed the mission.

On Jan. 24, The Super-TIGER balloon team broke the record for longest flight by a balloon of its size, flying for 46 days. Last Friday when it landed, the team broke another record, the longest flight of any heavy lift scientific balloon, including NASA's Long Duration Balloons. The previous record was set in 2009 by NASA's Super Pressure Balloon at 54 days, 1 hour, and 29 minutes.

"Scientific balloons give scientists the ability to gather critical for a long duration at a very low relative cost," said Vernon Jones, NASA's Balloon Program scientist. "Super-TIGER is scientific ballooning at its best."

Super-TIGER flew a new instrument for measuring rare heavy elements such as iron among the flux of high-energy cosmic rays bombarding Earth from elsewhere in our . The information retrieved from this mission will be used to understand where these energetic are produced and how they achieve their very high energies.

The balloon gathered so much data it will take scientists about two years to analyze it fully.

"This has been a very successful flight because of the long duration, which allowed us to detect large numbers of ," said Dr. Bob Binns, principal investigator of the Super-TIGER mission. "The instrument functioned very well."

The balloon was able to stay aloft as long as it did because of prevailing at the South Pole. The launch site takes advantage of anticyclonic, or counter-clockwise, winds circulating from east to west in the stratosphere there. This circulation and the sparse population work together to enable long-duration balloon flights at altitudes above 100,000 feet.

Explore further: Witness: Space tourism rocket explodes in desert

More information: www.wff.nasa.gov/balloons

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 ...

Recommended for you

Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

Oct 30, 2014

(Phys.org) —As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

Oct 30, 2014

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

Oct 30, 2014

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

NASA image: Sunrise from the International Space Station

Oct 30, 2014

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JRi
5 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2013
I'm curious, what brought the balloon eventually down, meteorite, weakening of the material by UV-radiation or ozone...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.