On Thursday night at 03:21 local time, NASA and the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) launched the balloon borne LEE instrument from Esrange Space Center. The balloon reached an altitude of around 43 km and is now on its way flying west towards Canada where it will land after about 5 days flight.
| The payload LEE.
|| Ready for launch.
|| Going up.
| © NASA
CSBF has the overall operational responsibility for the campaign activities and they are supported by a project manager and a launch team from SSC.
“Esrange is an important launch site for NASA’s Long Duration Balloon program because it offers near continuous daylight that helps sustain balloon altitudes for these type multiple-day missions as well as being an ideal location for certain science measurements that require polar latitude observations”, says Mr. David Gregory, Assistant Chief of NASA’s Balloon Program Office.
“NASA and CSBF has been supporting Drs. Clem and Evenson for many years with flights of the LEE and AESOP instruments”, said Mr. Danny RJ Ball, Site Manager of the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. “These observations have become the standard measuring stick for cosmic ray flux over several solar cycles. We are very appreciative of the assistance of our Swedish colleagues and the fine facilities at Esrange that enable us to support this research”.
This balloon campaign is a continuation of a NASA long-duration balloon flight programme at northern latitudes that started in the summer of 2005. By conducting balloon flights from Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden to North America, flights of up to 4-6 days can be obtained.
The scientific mission
LEE, lead by scientists from theUniversityofDelaware,USA, will measure the energy spectrum of cosmic ray electrons. The bulk of cosmic rays observed at Earth are likely produced by strong shock waves generated from Super Nova explosions within our Galaxy. This constant stream of cosmic rays entering the solar system provides a means to probe the magnetic fields imbedded in the outward flowing solar wind.
“These balloon observations are critical input to the understanding of cosmic ray propagation through the solar system”, says Dr. John Clem, head of the scientific team. “The winds were perfect for a balloon launch and the incoming data is excellent. We are very happy with the flight”, Dr. Clem concludes.
The next scientific experiment within the NASA summer campaign, AESOP, will be ready for launch within a week.
The NASA summer campaign
The LEE web site
Follow the flight in "LDB Relayed Real Time GPS Data"
For further information contact
Tomas Hedqvist, project manager at Esrange Space Center
+46 980 720 16 or +46 70 517 20 16