Purpose of the flight and payload description

PARABLE was the acronym of PAyload for Remote sounding of the Atmosphere using Balloon Limb Experiments a mission acrrying a suite of four instruments in the same gondola working together to take measurements of the atmosphere for climate change science and atmospheric pollution studies. The gondola choosen to host the four instruments was CARMEN, a multi-payload platform developed by the French Space Agency CNES born with several concepts in mind: modularity to allow the inclusion of several instruments devoted to the same or different research areas in one mission, reusability to overcome the difficult to adapt a platform specifically designed around an instrument to another, thus reducing costs and developing times and finally cargo volume which is maximized to allow the installation of many instruments onboard.

The instruments carried onboard were:

PARIS-ir (Portable Atmospheric Research Interferometric Spectrometer for the Infrared) aimed to measure the spectrum of sunlight that passed through different altitudes of the atmosphere to determine its chemical composition. This will allow scientists to infer how the composition of the atmosphere changes with altitude. The measurements obtained will be used to validate observations from the Canadian SCISAT satellite, which monitors the ozone layer and the atmosphere, and to track possible long-term changes in the atmosphere. This flight will also assess the performance of a new sun-tracker system used to point the instrument's field of view towards the sun.

DA-2 - Fourier Transform Spectrometer with Dynamical Alignment system (DA-2) a spectrometer that observe the composition of the atmosphere by measuring the spectrum of sunlight. The goals of the measurements were similar to those of PARIS-IR. This particular payload has been profiling air pollutants and ozone-destroying chemicals in the atmosphere since the 1970s. It will use its historical data and make observations according to the new measurements obtained. DA-2 provideD measurements for chemicals not sensed by PARIS-IR. As part of this flight, a new data acquisition and instrument control system wAS tested. Dr. Pierre Fogal of the University of Toronto is the principal investigator.

SPS-B (SunPhotoSpectrometer, Balloon version) a spectrometer with the ability to measure a whole spectrum of light at once with a detector similar to that found in a digital camera. Each pixel can look at a different wavelength of light. SPS-B measured the light during sunset below the balloon's altitude. Changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere according to altitude will be detected, and the measurements obtained will provide information about the vertical profiles of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, water vapour and atmospheric aerosol. While PARIS-IR and DA-2 took measurements in the infrared, SPS-B's data will be in the ultraviolet and visible parts of the solar spectrum. Dr. Tom McElroy of York University is the principal investigator.

O2S (O2 Spectrometer) designed to measure the amount of molecular oxygen below the balloon. The information collected will be used for the development of a system that will measure near-surface carbon dioxide and methane -both greenhouse gases- from space. The payload's measurements will also help assess the performance of a new pointing system that is intended for eventual space applications. Dr. Tom McElroy of York University is the principal investigator.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 9/13/2015 at 7:15 utc
Launch site: Timmins Stratospheric Balloon Base, Ontario, Canada  
Balloon launched by: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon model 402z Zodiac 400.000 m3
Flight identification number: NIMBUS-4
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 9/14/2015
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 18 h 15 m
Landing site: Near Lebel-sur-Quevillon,Quebec, Canada
Campaign: STRATO SCIENCE 2015  
Payload weight: 764 kg
Overall weight: 2205 kg

External references

Images of the mission

Transporting the CARMEN gondola to the launch pad (Image: CNES/GRIMAULT Emmanuel, 2015) Inflating the Zodiac 402Z balloon (Image: CNES/GRIMAULT Emmanuel, 2015) Panoramic of the launch line (Image: Timmins Stratospheric Balloon Base) The CARMEN gondola ascending under its auxiliary balloon (Image: CNES/GRIMAULT Emmanuel, 2015)

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