Description of the payload

It is an advanced Fourier Transform Infra Red (FTIR) spectrometer specially tailored to the operation on a stratospheric balloon gondola. It allows precise limb emission sounding of chemical constituents related to the stratospheric ozone problem and the greenhouse effect. This method is appropriate to obtain vertical profiles of ozone and a considerable number of key radicals (NO, NO2), reservoir species (HNO3, N2O5, ClONO2, and HO2NO2) as well as source gases (CH4, N2O, H2O, CFC-11, CFC-12, CFC-22, CCl4, CF4, C2H6, and SF6) simultaneously, with an altitude resolution of 2 to 3 km.

The MIPAS-B experiment was also thought as precursor for a space version of MIPAS actually installed onboard ENVISAT.

The instrument is divided in five operational segments:

(1) the gondola,
(2) the line-of-sight (LOS) stabilization and reference system,
(3) the cryogenic spectrometer,
(4) the on-board electronics, and
(5) the ground control equipment

The gondola is a frame construction, developed by the Geneva Observatory, combining high stability and safety with relatively low weight and easy servicing.

The LOS system is based on a miniaturized inertial navigation system with embedded GPS (Global Positioning System) that provides the attitude and heading reference of the instrument frame needed for the control loop to maintain the LOS within 300 m at the tangent point. A CCD star camera takes images of stars in the direction of the LOS that are used as absolute reference.

The spectrometer consists of a three-mirror off-axis telescope, a double-pendulum interferometer, and a four channel liquid-He cooled infrared detector system. The heart of the instrument is the double pendulum interferometer, a modification of the classical Michelson set-up. The four-channel detector system allows the simultaneous coverage of the most important absorption bands of ozone-relevant molecules between 5.2 and 13.3 µm.

The analogue data is sampled on-board, mixed with the information of the other channels and the housekeeping data, and sent to ground via telemetry at a data rate of 250 kbit/s. An uplink connection of 1200 bit/s ensures full commandability of the instrument during flight.

On ground, the raw data is split up again and stored immediately in a data base. At the same time, housekeeping data and interferograms can be viewed and processed to allow on-line evaluation of measured data and of instrumental health.

Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome

Launch site: European Space Range, Kiruna, Sweden  
Balloon launched by: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Open balloon model 100z Zodiac - 100.000 m3
Balloon serial number: 100Z Nº 112
Campaign: ARCHEOPS  
Payload weight: 858 kgs
Gondola weight: 576 kgs

The balloon was launched by auxiliary balloon method on January 11, 2001 at 12.02 UTC.

After a initial ascent phase of 1 hour and 45 minutes the ceiling of 28,6 km was reached. After that the balloon started a eastward flight path flying over Finland, and then into Russia.

The flight was terminated the same day at 16.38 UTC

This was the flight # 9 of MIPAS-B2 and the instrument was specially configured to study the so called Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSC).

Measurements were performed well inside the arctic vortex. Sequences of nocturnal limb emission spectra were measured near 65°N and 70°N inside and outside a large PSC field. While for the southern limb scan no prominent features of polar stratospheric clouds could be recognized in the spectra, the data of the northern scan have been affected by a thick PSC layer.

External references and bibliographical sources