Purpose of the flight and payload description

BESS (the Balloon-borne Experiment with a Superconducting Spectrometer) is a joint project of Japanese and US scientists to search for antimatter in the cosmic radiation, as well as measure energy and intensity of less exotic components of the cosmic radiation.

The BESS program has had 9 successful flight campaigns since 1993. The instrument has been modified and improved each year.

Historically, the various versions of the BESS instrument have consisted of large solenoidal thin-wall superconducting magnet, a time-of-flight system of scintillation counter hodoscopes, inner drift chambers (IDC), a jet-type drift particle-tracking chamber and an aerogel Cherenkov counter (which replaced outer drift chambers used in the first flights). All the components are arranged in a horizontal cylindrical configuration with the IDC and Jet chambers located inside the warm bore of the magnet.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 10/1/2003 at 17:50 utc
Launch site: Scientific Flight Balloon Facility, Fort Sumner, (NM), US  
Balloon launched by: National Scientific Balloon Facility (NSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon 28.4 mcu ft - N29I-8/8/8/8T-28.40
Balloon serial number: R28.40-3-120
Flight identification number: 523N
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 10/1/2003 at 21:47 utc
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 4 h 38 m
Landing site: 22 miles SSE of Portales, New Mexico, US

This was the engineering flight of the modified BESS version called "Polar BESS" designated to make long duration flights in Arctic and Antarctic regions.

External references

Images of the mission

Latest minutes before launch of the Polar BESS experiment Landing Site. The bottom part of the gondola had collapsed due to the impact against the ground

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