TECHNOPS Campaign (1989)

TECHNOPS was a technological and scientific balloon launch campaign performed by the balloon group of the French Centre Nationale de E'tudes Spatiales (CNES) in Winter 1989 from the base of ESRANGE, near Kiruna, Sweden.

The initiative had its origin in CHEOPS (Chemistry of Ozone in the Polar Stratosphere) another scientific campaign performed there the year before. On that moment the prevailing very low temperatures in the stratosphere caused the failure of several balloon flights.

A deep investigation on the issue led to conclude that during ascent in such hard atmospheric conditions the adiabatic cooling during ascent of the gas inside the balloon made its temperature drop to values bellow minus 95º celsius, thus rendering the polyethylene film fabric of the balloon more brittle and fragile .

To solve the problem CNES started the development of new materials for balloon films and also worked to improve the standard procedures for launch operations and the in-flight control for those balloons that carried heavy payloads.

All these enhancements were tested during the TECHNOPS campaign carried out in January 1989 on which were succesfully launched three balloons. Althought the main focus of the campaign was to test the new techniques and materials, the balloons carried scientific instruments that exploited the opportunity to obtain data on the Ozone problem in the region. Some of the scientific results from these flights include the first measurements obtained of the total reactive nitrogen between 15 and 29 km performed within the Arctic cold vortex.

The lessons learned by the CNES pave the way for many successful campaigns with balloons in the Arctic in the years to come.

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