Description of the payload

The Balloon Observation Platform for Planetary Science (BOPPS) was a stratospheric balloon mission developed for NASA Planetary Science and was designed to demonstrate gondola and payload systems for balloon-borne planetary astronomy to achieve fundamental science objectives.

BOPPS is a stabilized pointing platform mounting an 80-cm telescope on a gondola capable of operating at 110,000 to 140,000 feet, above most of the atmosphere's water and carbon dioxide. Because it is at such a high altitude, BOPPS can see wavelengths of light which are blocked by the atmosphere from reaching the ground. BOPPS is designed to measure water and carbon dioxide from comets at infrared wavelengths in the 2.5 to 5 micron range, which cannot be seen from the ground because of atmospheric absorption.

The primary science objectives of the BOPPS mission were to measure CO2 and H2O emissions from the Oort Cloud Comets C/2013A1 Siding Spring and C/2012K1 PanSTARRS. The entire mission endured 17 hours to heights over 127,000 feet. The gondola and payloads functioned well, and sufficient science and engineering data were collected to achieve the top-level mission objectives.

Video of the launch operations

Details of the balloon flight and scientific outcome

Launch site: Scientific Flight Balloon Facility, Fort Sumner, (NM), US  
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon  
Flight identification number: 654N

External references and bibliographical sources

Images of the mission