The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 25 April 2017 successfully launched its football-stadium-sized and heavy-lift Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand.
The balloon will float for 100 or more days at 110000 feet (33.5 km) across the globe in the Southern Hemisphere's mid-latitude band. It will observe a broad swath of the Earth’s atmosphere to detect the UV fluorescence from the deep space cosmic rays coming in from above.
Highlights of Super Pressure Balloon
• The Super Pressure Balloon will detect ultra-high energy cosmic particles from beyond the galaxy as they penetrate the earth's atmosphere.
• 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.
• 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.
• It is expected to circle the planet two or three times.
About Super Pressure Balloon
• The Balloon was developed together by NASA and Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility teams.
• 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.
• NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia manages the 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.
Where: New Zealand
What: Launched by NASA
When: 25 April 2017