Purpose of the flight and payload description

FPS100 was the denomination of a balloon-borne instrument for astronomical observations in the far-infrared domain of the spectrum. It was composed by a 1 meter diameter telescope (T100) developed by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) from India coupled with a Fabry Perot Spectrometer (FPS) developed by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and Nagoya University from Japan. Both instruments performed several balloon missions over India starting in 1999.

In the image at left we have a general view of the instrument (click to enlarge).

The T100 Telescope

The telescope employed an f/8 Cassegrain system with a solid-aluminum primary mirror of 1 meter of diameter and an undersized secondary with a central hole to minimize the signal due to chopping of the primary mirror edges and its central hole.

The telescope was stabilized in the two orthogonal axis which were nominally normal to the optic axis, namely in the elevation (EL) and cross-elevation (XEL) axes; the error signals for the servo-system were provided by a star tracker and a pair of orthogonal rate gyros. Servo-control for the azimuthal axis was also used to avoid the limitation arising from the small angular freedom for the cross-elevation axis. The star tracker had a 1.4º field of view and was capable of acquiring stars of B magnitude brighter than 5. Further, the star tracker could be offset with respect to the telescope axis up to 4.5º in both the elevation and cross-elevation axes. A photomultiplier in the focal plane of the telescope viewed a 2.5º field which was offset by 9' in cross-elevation with respect to the infrared field. This was sensitive to stars of magnitude < 9 and could be used for aspect calibration using stars close to the infrared field.

The telescope could be operated in either a pointing mode or a raster scan mode; the amplitude and the speed along the lines of scan (in crosselevation) and the steps in elevation and/or crosselevation at the end of each scan line could be selected by radio commands.

The Fabry Perot Spectrometer

The FPS was a tandem Fabry Perot Spectrometer, which was installed at the focal plane of the T100 telescope. It consisted of two Fabry Perot interferometers: one a high order interferometer with movable plates to scan the wavelength (Scanning Fabry Perot; SFP) and the other a low-order interferometer with fixed plates (Fixed Fabry Perot; FFP) which acted as an order sorter for the SFP. The two interferometers together with other optics of the spectrometer and the FIR detector, were cooled to 2 K using liquid helium. The FIR detector used was a stressed Germanium-Gallium (Ge:Ga) photoconductor.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 11/30/2017 at 22:15 ist
Launch site: TIFR National Balloon Facility, Hyderabad, India  
Balloon launched by: National Balloon Facility, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon 143.396 m3 (Antrix 20 Microns film, capped with Antrix 30 microns thick)
Flight identification number: 496
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 12/1/2017 at 6:30 ist
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 9 h
Landing site: 170 km NW of Hyderabad, India
Payload weight: 845,5 kg

The balloon was successfully launched from the National Balloon Facility in Hyderabad on 30th November 2017 at 22:15 hrs (IST). The balloon reached its ceiling altitude of 31.7 km after 2 hrs 22 mins with an average ascent rate of 223 m/min. The telescope was allowed to float for 5 hrs 52 mins for experimental observations and the flight was terminated at 06:30 hrs (IST) using a programmable timer. The payload was recovered 170 km NW of TIFR Balloon Facility.

External references

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