Description of the payload

At the beginning of each launch campaign (in this case the second part of it), the technicians of the balloons division of the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) perform an initial launch called "opening flight" wich technological aim is to test several systems to be used during the rest of the campaign.

Sometimes, this flights are used to send aloft small scientific experiments.

In this case the flight gondola included a Russian experiment called FLASH-B (FLuorescent Advanced Stratospheric Hygrometer Balloon-Borne). It's a Lyman Alpha hygrometer for in situ water vapour observations in the upper troposphere/low stratosphere region developed at Central Aerological Observatory, Russia and is based on the fluorescent method, which uses H2O molecules photodissociation followed by the measurement of the fluorescence of excited OH radicals. The source of Lyman-alpha radiation is a hydrogen discharge lamp while the detector of OH fluorescence is a photomultiplier run in photon counting mode. The instrument uses an open layout where the optics is looking directly into the outside air. This arrangement is suitable only for nighttime measurements with a solar zenith angle larger than 98º, at which sun light no longer reaches the detector.

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: Zero Pressure Balloon  

The balloon was launched at 16:47 UTC on Febraury 18th 2006 and reached ceiling without trouble.

After a flight time of nearly 3 hours the balloon was taken down and landed near the village of Karesuando in the north part of Sweden.

External references and bibliographical sources