Description of the payload
A balloon-borne gamma-ray experiment, which is an instrument designed to obtain images of cosmic sources.
The MASCO experiment employs a Modified Uniformly Redundant Array coded mask (hence her name) and a NaI(Tl) position sensitive detector.
More than simply an instrument MASCO, has been one of the most important astronomy and astrophysics projects developed in Brazil of the last decade.
In addition to the development of the system of obtaining of images, it was necessary also to develop an automatic system that during the flight, pointed the telescope towards the target objective. This attitude control system was designed to provide a few arcminutes pointing and stabilization for a ~ 2,000 kg, 7-m high, 2-m wide, 2-m deep gondola that encompasses the telescope and its associated electronics.
Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome
Launch site: Nova Ponte Airfield, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Balloon launched by: Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Raven 1.200.000 m3
Payload weight: ~ 2000 kgs
After several cancellations due to non suitable launch weather, was finally decided to make a try to launch the balloon on December 13, 2003.
All subsystems of the telescope were checked and worked very well, but after release the balloon and before the pick up of the gondola, a mechanical part wich ties the parachute to the payload separation system failed. The launch operation was aborted at once.
The next launch try -this time with success- was on April 1st, 2004
In this flight data were not obtained because the launching was aborted.
External references and bibliographical sources
- An Overview of the MASCO Experiment Advances in Space Research, 30(5), 1333-1342, 2002
- Astrofísica de altas energias: desenvolvimento do telescópio MASCO e observações de GRO J1744-28 com o telescópio SIGMA Mejía Cabeza, Jorge - Tese (Doutorado em Astrofísica)
- Development of the Imaging System of the Balloon-Borne Gamma-Ray Telescope MASCO Review of Scientific Instruments, 73(10), 3619-3628, 2002
- Para tener otra vision del Espacio Revista Pesquisa FAPESP - 79 - Setembro 2002 - Edição 79
- Preflight tests of the MASCO telescope Advances in Space Research, 26(9), 1411-1414, 2000
- The CCD Stellar Sensor for Fine Pointing of the MASCO Telescope Thyrso Villela's home page