NASA to launch science balloons in New Mexico

The NASA Balloon Science Program plans eight planned launches from the agency’s balloon launch pad in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, to bring science experiments into the near-space environment via a NASA balloon the size of a football field.

The fall 2023 balloon campaign window opens on August 10 and consists of 24 payloads led by teams of scientists, engineers and students. “Our annual Fort Sumner campaign is our most ambitious yet and is packed with cutting-edge science developed by teams in the U.S. and around the world,” said Debbie Fairbrother, head of the Balloon Science Program at Wallops Air Facility. NASA in Virginia.

One mission on deck is the Exoplanet Climatic Infrared Telescope (EXCITE). The mission consists of a companion astronomical telescope designed to study Jupiter-type exoplanets orbiting other stars. After this fall’s engineering test flight, a long-duration superpressure balloon flight is planned. The EXCITE task force includes members from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Arizona State University, Brown University, Cornell University, Oxford University, University of Rome, Starspec Technologies, Inc., University of Toronto, and University College London.

SomeAdditional work is planned Flying during the fall campaign includes:

-Gamma Ray Polarimeter Experiment (GRAPE) : Instrument will measure the Crab Nebula to demonstrate imaging and polarization of gamma-ray bursts.

-Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Remote : These instruments address scientific questions in NASA’s atmospheric composition focus area, including providing validation data for NASA satellites.

Fine Intergalactic Medium Redshift Emission Balloon (FIREBall-2) : The work relies on multi-object ultraviolet spectroscopy designed to detect faint emission from the circumstellar medium of nearby galaxies.

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-High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) : The platform helps train the next generation of space scientists and engineers. On-site experiments include an ozone detection system and an electron telescope spectrometer. Test hardware will be flight tested for future larger tests.

Testbed for High-Acuity Imaging and Static Photometry and Image-Motion Compensation (THAI-SPICE) : The objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate an improved targeting system for stratospheric payloads with telescopes on balloons.

-Heated Neutron Measurement Experiment (TinMan): The mission has a 60-pound payload designed to address concerns about the effects of thermal neutrons on avionics.

On the other hand, sixteen smaller payloads, known as piggyback missions, will travel during the launch. And as a valuable and efficient means of supporting scientific and technological development. One of these missions, ComPair, is a Goddard instrument that tests new technologies for probing gamma rays.

Science balloons are a fast, cost-effective way to test, monitor and retrieve scientific experiments for NASA and universities around the world. The zero-pressure balloons used in the upcoming fall campaign have open tubes that allow gas to escape and prevent pressure from building up inside the balloon. As the balloon rises above the Earth’s surface, it heats up and the gas expands. These balloons usually have a short flight time due to gas loss due to the day-to-night cycle.

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