An activity that has increased in recent years, and has now crossed the rocket launches in number, is launches of stratospheric balloons.
High altitude balloons
Over 520 high altitude balloons have been launched from Esrange Space Center since 1974. The balloons fly with the wind at a height between 15 and 45 km and carries scientific instruments for research in atmospheric physics, astronomy and meteorology, and the balloons can also be used for drop tests and to perform control measurements to validate satellite measurements.
Advantages in ballooning
The midnight sun
There are many advantages launching scientific instruments with a stratospheric balloon from Esrange Space Center. The geographical location is particularly important when you can fly a balloon in total sunlight for several days since the batteries that supply the instruments onboard with power can easily be recharged.
Another advantage of the northern location is that Esrange Space Center is located on the edge of the so-called polar vortex. It is an area with strong currents in the stratosphere that is formed over the Arctic during winter months. Polar vortex plays a significant role in ozone depletion. Therefore, there are many environmental scientists at Esrange during the winter to study the ozone problem.
Size of balloons
Some of the balloons can be twice as large as the Globe Arena in Stockholm, lift a payload of two tons and fly from Esrange Space Center to Alaska in just over four days.
After a flight, both payload (experiment) and the balloon are brought back to Esrange Space Center by helicopter. The equipment is renovated since it can be flown again.