Description of the payload

THAI-SPICE, which stands for Testbed for High Acuity Imaging - Stable Photometry Image-motion Compensation Experiment, was a special platform developed by a team of the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) to study two of the main obstacles to obtaining sharp images from a balloon platform: temperature-induced optical aberrations and motion of the focal plane.

To address the first problem were tested in flight a system of sunshields, earth-shields and telescope insulation to passively reduce thermal gradients to a few degrees Kelvin. To study the second problem was flown a solid-state fine-pointing device: an orthogonal transfer CCD (OTCCD) that moved the image on the detector during exposures to compensate for tip-tilt pointing errors.

Also was carried onboard a wavefront sensor, to determine whether relatively inexpensive telescopes -combined with deformable mirrors- can produce images of sufficient quality to be useful in finding binary asteroid systems.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 10/16/2019 at 13:56 utc
Launch site: Scientific Flight Balloon Facility, Fort Sumner, (NM), US  
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Raven Aerostar - A1.128-0-03 - 1.128.000 cuft
Flight identification number: 704N
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 10/16/2019 at 19:05 utc
Balloon flight duration (d:days / h:hours / m:minutes): 5 h 45 m
Landing site: NE of Hollis, Oklahoma, US
Payload weight: 70 lbs

External references

Images of the mission

        Recovery of the payload from a field in Texas