Description of the payload

A highly sophisticated gondola specializing in air mass zero (AM0) calibration of solar cells.

Calibrations are performed fliying the gondola on-board stratospheric balloons at high altitudes (>36 km) where the solar spectral irradiance is very close to AM0. The cells calibrated in this way can subsequently be used as standard solar cell in various laboratory tasks for solar cell characterization by sun simulators.

CNES is the only laboratory in Europe carrying out calibration of this type above the atmosphere.

At left is a drawing of the balloon/payload system (click to enlarge).

The CNES calibration flights have flown from Aire sur l'Adour or Gap (in France) facilities since 1975 and recently (2005) also were flown in the ecuatorial region (Northern Brazil). The flights are scheduled between June and September, since the Sun is high in the sky at this time of year so that the sunlight passes through a minimal thickness of the atmosphere before reaching the solar modules.

Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome

Launch site: Centre de Lancement de Ballons CLBA, Aire Sur L'Adour, Landes, France  
Balloon launched by: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon model 100sf Zodiac - 100.000 m3
Balloon serial number: 100SF Nº 236
Payload weight: 358 kgs
Gondola weight: 150 kgs

External references and bibliographical sources