Purpose of the flight and payload description
The objective of the flight was to evaluate the feasibility of tracking a target lowered in the stratosphere as long optical path lengths are needed for in situ laser absorption monitoring of many trace stratospheric species. This experiment examined the possibility of employing a lowered retroreflector for the purpose of making such measurements.
During this flight, data were recorded at several float altitudes between 25-35 km by valve control of the balloon's helium capacity. The results supported the predictions based on simple pendulum theory and established the feasibility of using and tracking a lowered retroreflector in a balloon-borne instrument.
This along with other test performed earlier that same year showed that the lowered retroreflector was a viable technique for implementing long path, in situ measurements in the stratosphere.
This would lead years later to the aplication of that principle in the Balloon-borne Laser In-Situ Sensor or BLISS, a high-resolution absorption spectrometer designed to provide measurements of the concentrations of ozone and other stratospheric species and their diurnal variations. It was flown eleven times under balloons between 1983 and 1992.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 11/2/1979 at 15:31 utc
Launch site: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, Palestine, Texas, US
Balloon launched by: National Scientific Balloon Facility (NSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Winzen 116.949 m3 (12.70 microns - Stratofilm) - SF 218.53-050-NSCR-02
Balloon serial number: W 4.13-1-08
Flight identification number: 1181P
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 11/2/1979 at 20:36 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): F 5 h 45 m
Landing site: 15 miles NW of Natchez, Mississippi, US
Payload weight: 446 kgs