Purpose of the flight and payload description

The superpressure balloon is the most recent development of the NASA balloon program, aimed to perform future missions of long duration (up to 100 days) transporting several tons of instruments. As a closed balloon, it flies at a constant altitude of about 110.000 feet.

The scientific payload was COSI (Compton Spectrometer and Imager Science) builñt on the heritage from another astrophysical instrument called the Nuclear Compton Telescope, is an imager/spectrometer/polarimeter. The heart of COSI consists of 12 high-purity germanium detectors which are sensitive enough to detect out-of-this-world objects. The aim of the project is to answer questions about the births and deaths of stars, further unveil the mysterious source of positrons in our galaxy, and probe extreme astrophysical sources, such as pulsars, active galactic nuclei, and black holes.

Video footage of the launch

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 12/28/2014
Launch site: Williams Field, McMurdo Station, Antarctica  
Balloon launched by: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Super Pressure Balloon Raven Aerostar - Superpressure - 18.000.000 cuft
Flight identification number: 659NT
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 12/30/2014
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 1 d 19 h
Landing site: 350 miles from McMurdo Station, Antarctica

The mission objectives were not achieved as the balloon developed a leak after the first day at float and thus, was decided to end the flight to increase the chances of instrument recovery during the season, instead of continuing operations for as long as the balloon maintained altitude.

External references

Images of the mission

         

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