Description of the payload

BOBCAT is the acronym of Balloon-Borne Cryogenic Telescope Testbed, a technology demonstration to develop advanced instrumentation for astrophysical observations at far-infrared wavelengths, carried out at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Main objective of the project is to develop cryogenic techniques as an enabling technology to improve far-IR sensitivity by a factor of 100,000 or more compared to current state-of-the-art instrumentation such as airborne telescope SOFIA. Cryogenic spectrometers, operating at balloon altitudes, have game-changing capabilities, but achieving this goal while remaining within balloon payload mass limits requires ultra-light cryostats. This project is developing an ultra-light cryostat and demonstrates the ability to transfer cryogenic liquids between dewars at balloon altitudes.

Video footage of the launch

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 8/22/2019 at 13:59 utc
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 Raven Aerostar - W29.47-2X-94 - 29.470.000 cuft
Flight identification number: 696N
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 8/22/2019 at (L) 22:30 utc
Balloon flight duration (d:days / h:hours / m:minutes): 8 h 30 m
Landing site: 90 km E of Holbrook, Arizona, US
Payload weight: 3136 lb

External references

Images of the mission

  The BOBCAT payload hangs from the launch vehicle during testing prior to launching. (Image: Nick Bellis)     A photo of BOBCAT in flight taken with the onboard camera (Credit: Nick Bellis)