Description of the payload

MANTRA is a balloon mission to investigate changes in the concentrations of ozone and other compounds in the stratosphere.

The balloon carried a payload of six instruments to measure atmospheric composition and to investigate possible causes for the lack of agreement between theory and observations from the past.

Of the six instruments, three of them were flown on balloons in the 1970s and early 1980s:

- NO2 spectrophotometer
- HNO3 radiometer,
- OH spectrometer,

and three of them employed newer technology:

- photodiode array spectrometer
- acousto-optic tunable filter spectrometer
- Fourier transform interferometer.

Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome

 

Launch site: Scientific Instrumentation Ltd Balloon Launch Facility, Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, Canada  
Balloon launched by: Scientific Instrument Limited
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon 328.500 m3
Campaign: MANTRA  

Balloon was launched from Vanscoy, at 3:25 am local time, by dynamic method using a launch vehicle.

The balloon reached float altitude without problems and spent the rest of the day, making the planned observations.

After successfully completing its mission, with the data sent by telemetry back to the ground base, the cutdown command was sent but nothing happened. All the separation gear failed
and the balloon journeyed across Canada, descending down into the trans-Atlantic air routes near Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

That was when worried air traffic controllers called the Canadian military in. CF-18 jet pilots fired on it more than 1,000 bullets and survived. The balloon continued on travelling over Iceland where it was shadowed by U.S. and British military aircraft, then past Spitsbergen, Norway, through Russian airspace and over Finland, when finally landed near Mariehamn on the Aland Islands, on September 2, nine days after its journey began.

The payload was recovered with the assistance of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

External references and bibliographical sources

Images of the mission

Payload hang test Balloon inflation The balloon seen trough a telescope The landing site on Aland Islands Detailed view of the gondola showing a bullet hole produced by the firing of two F-18 of the RCAF sent to down the balloon