After little more than a day of flight, the POT she was forced to ditch one of her huge, high-altitude scientific balloons in the ocean after a leak was detected.
The balloon, described by NASA as the size of a football stadium and designed to float at about 110,000 feet (33.5 kilometers), launched from New Zealand’s Wānaka airport on May 13. He was carrying the Extreme Universe Space Observatory 2 (EUSO-2), a mission from the University of Chicago that hoped to learn more about the origin of ultra-high-energy cosmic ray particles from beyond our galaxy as they penetrate into the galaxy. Earth’s atmosphere.
But after around 36 hours in the sky, flight controllers learned that the balloon had developed a leak. After a failed effort to fix the problem, the decision was made to end the flight over the Pacific Ocean on Sunday.
NASA said the completion procedure deployed a two-tonne flight payload as an anchor to pull the entire balloon to the ocean floor as quickly as possible. This helps to minimize any environmental impact by ensuring the balloon remains outside the area where most marine life is known to occur.
“This is an unfortunate end to the mission and we will investigate the cause to help us continue to improve super pressure balloon technology,” said Debbie Fairbrother, head of NASA’s Science Balloon Program, in a statement.
The launch was the second and final flight for NASA’s New Zealand 2023 balloon launch campaign after it sent another balloon into the sky in April. Still in the air, it carries Princeton University’s Super Pressure Balloon Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) to collect data on large clusters of galaxies.
Balloon-based telescopes offer many advantages over other types, including potentially clearer images than those obtained from ground-based telescopes, and more cost-effective missions compared to those involving rockets.
Desiring to avoid any confusion about the identity and purpose of its balloon flights following the discovery earlier this year of apparent spy balloons Chinese operatedNASA invites the public to follow their missions as they travel through the mid-latitudes of the southern hemisphere.