SPRITE II Campaign ends, in Brazil - 3/24/2006
Santa Maria (RS), Brazil.-
The second and last balloon of the campaign was launched on March 17, at 22:02 local time. The flight had a duration of near 10 hours, and the objective was to make SPRITES measurements using a video camera. The payload was not recovered due to a malfunction in the GPS system that prevented to follow carefully the balloon path. An estimation was made that the flight may be ended near the city of Alegrete but it was not yet confirmed.
The two others flights of the US gondolas planned to be launched from Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul state, in Brazil finally were cancelled due to lack of storms in the area, a key element to the research intended.
The SPRITE II campaign lasted from middle Febraury until middle March, and involved several universities of the United States (Washington, Duke y State of Utah) and the ELAT (Laboratório de Eletricidade Atmosférica) depending of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) that is the Brazil's Space Research Agency.
This was the second campaign of this kind that took place in Brazil to measure and detect the so called SPRITES, wich are massive but weak luminous flashes that appear directly above an active thunderstorm system and are coincident with cloud-to-ground or intracloud lightning strokes.
This year, the launch site was the campus of the Federal University of Santa María (UFSM), in the center region of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, south of the country. The first balloon (with a volume of 8500 m3) was succesfully launched on the evening of Febraury 15th, but can't reach flight altitude and failed. Both, the payload and the balloon were recovered in good shape 3 hours later near the town of Água Boa.
A carefully examination of the envelope, indicated no obvious manufacturer problems, but the recovered payload was very wet so was stablished that probably the balloon failed due to the water accumultaion on his top when passed through heavy liquid water content stratus.
This information was kindly provided by Jeremy Thomas, and the Ing. Eliste Rinke dos Santos from INPE's balloon division.
Cooperation between Brazil and Japan - 3/1/2006
Brazil & Japan.-
In the framework of an agreement between the two countries, Nagoya University and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) are involved in a collaborative project to launch from Brazil onboard a stratospheric balloon a new instrument developed for infrared astronomy research called FITE (Far-Infrared Interferometric Telescope Experiment).
The purpose of this instrument is to reveal the temperature distribution/structure of the dense dust clouds surrounding energetic objects, such as star-forming regions, protoplanetary disks, and nuclear starburst galaxies.
In the context of the project (to be completed in 2010) in past December 16th was succesfuly launched a first test balloon with a technological objective (that you can see in the picture at left) from the INPE's permanent balloon launch base located in Cachoeira Paulista, in Sao Paulo state. Also were performed there two dry runs (without flight) for launches with loads ranging from 500 kg to two tons.
This information was kindly provided by Mr.Hiroshi Shibai from Nagoya University.