DUSTER (Dust in the Upper Stratosphere Tracking Experiment and Return)
Developed by University of Naples (Parthenope), Italy
Balloon launched on 6/21/2008, from Longyearbyen Airport, Svalbard, Norway
Description of the payload
The instrument was designed to be flown as stand-alone payload under a stratospheric balloon to bring back aerosol samples where abundance, size distribution, composition and mineralogy will be measured for each class of materials collected.
A sampling of the stratosphere will invariably include particles from different sources with relative contributions that vary as a function of time, altitude, and possibly geographic location. At any time the stratosphere contains extraterrestrial dust, dust from natural terrestrial sources (volcanic dust, wind-blown dust, biomass burning) and dust related to anthropogenic activities. The dust is collected by direct deposition on both holey-carbon thin films supported by standard Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) grids and other substrates.
After the flight the collected dust is analysed in laboratory by Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy (SEM, TEM), Analytical Electron Microscope (AEM), X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectroscopy, and Secondary Ions Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) without removing candidate particles, thus minimizing contamination by extraneous dust.
Video of the launch operations
Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome
After two weeks of readiness and testing at University Centre at Svalbard (UNIS), the DUSTER payload was launched on June 21, 2008 at 06:05 UTC. The launch was performed in perfect conditions with about 3 kts of wind and partly cloudy skies.
The balloon reached an altitude of 36 kilometres and maintained this float altitude during the entire flight. Four days after the launch the payload was terminated close to Thule Air Base in northern Greenland and immediately recovered by Air Greenland by use of a helicopter.
The payload was then returned to Norway and sent on to Italy where analysis of the samples began.
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