Purpose of the flight and payload description

The objective of the flight was to take pictures of Noctilucent Clouds forming over the polar region in the summer period. The mission was funded by the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA), and the science instrument carried on the balloon being built and operated by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Kiruna.

Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the Earth's atmosphere and form in summer in the mesosphere at an altitude of between 80 and 85 kilometers. Many waves of different scales propagate through the mesosphere and affect the region of noctilucent clouds. The observations of the clouds therefore become a way to study the dynamics of the waves both on a large and small scale.

The scientific payload was composed of three cameras to photograph the noctilucent clouds as we can see in the image at left: two of them equipped with wide-angle lenses to be able to observe nocturnal clouds at large scales (100-1500 km) and the third camera equipped to do the same at scales from 10 meters to 100 km to observe small-scale structures and the turbulence of the noctilucent clouds. The cameras were stabilized using a 3-axis motorized gimbal stabilized platform.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 8/16/2019 at 17:57 utc
Launch site: European Space Range, Kiruna, Sweden  
Balloon launched by: Swedish Space Corporation (SSC)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon  
Flight identification number: SSC Flt Nº 644
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 8/16/2019

The balloon was launched from the ESRANGE balloon base near Kiruna, Sweden on August 16, 2019. After a nominal ascent phase, the balloon reached an altitude of 30.2 kilometers. The experiment was successful and the cameras managed to take more than a thousand pictures. The images, taken at an altitude of 23 km, show faint wavy areas similar to the waves in noctilucent clouds. The image analysis is currently underway by researcher Peter Dalin at IRF in Kiruna.

External references

Images of the mission


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