NASA summer campaign 2018

June 14, 2018
NASA summer campaign 2018

Long-duration balloon flights at northern latitudes

The first NASA summer campaigns (2005) demonstrated a new long duration, heavy payload balloon capability from the northern hemisphere to the international science community. SSC and NASA combined their resources and experiences to offer significant new opportunities for US and European scientists to fly sophisticated instruments in near space for periods of up to 10 days at very low cost.

Colombia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) has the overall operational responsibility for the campaign activities and they will be supported by a particular project manager and a launch team from the SSC.

Until today the following flights have been performed:


  • BLAST – 11 June 2005


  • AESOP – 2 June 2006
  • ULDB – 12 June 2006
  • TRACER – 8 July 2006


  • LEE – 18 May 2009
  • AESOP – 6 June 2009
  • SUNRISE – 8 June 2009
  • ULDB – 22 June 2009


  • LEE – 27 May 2011
  • AESOP – 9 June 2011
  • HiWind – 13 June 2011


  • SUNRISE II – 12 June 2013


  • AESOP-Lite – 15 May 2018
  • HiWind – 24 June 2018


General information

Launch site: Esrange Space Center
Launch date: Planned to be launched May – July 2018
Scientific payloads:
AESOP-lite; Launched May 15, 2018 at 22:07 UTC
HiWind; Launched June 24, 2018 at 22:30 UTC
PMC-Turbo; Launched July 8, 2018 at 07:27 UTC

Link to NASA balloon page about campaign: 

Image on left: HiWind was launched from Esrange Space Center 13 June 2011.


Science Objectives:

  • To measure summertime polar cap thermospheric neutral winds and to study the ionosphere and thermosphere interaction in the polar cap during the summer
  • To understand the Joule heating in the high latitude region which has a great impact on thermosphere global circulation
  • To study hemispheric difference in the thermospheric winds by comparing with simultaneous observations in southern hemisphere
  • The observational results will have a great impact on space weather research and help to predict the ionosphere variation related to the thermosphere motion
  • HiWind is a balloon borne Fabry-Perot interferometer

Dr. Qian Wu, High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Heliophysics/Geospace Science


Studying turbulence best where it is least accessible

Science Objectives:

  • Polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs) occur where gravity wave dissipation and turbulence are strong
  • PMC are sensitive tracers of turbulence morphologies – in an ideal natural laboratory
  • PMC Turbo motivated by EBEX star camera images that revealed spectacular turbulence structure

Why study turbulence at high altitudes?

  • Turbulence impacts atmospheric circulation and structure from local to global scales – and from Earth’s surface to above 100 km
  • Improved descriptions of turbulence effects are a central need of numerical weather prediction models upon which we rely every day
  • Turbulence can be hazardous to life and property
  • Turbulence can perhaps best be studied at high altitudes, where PMCs provide unique observational capabilities

Dr. David C. Fritts, GATS Inc.
Heliophysics/Upper Atmosphere Research


Anti-Electron Sub-Orbital Payload- Low Energy

Science Objectives:

  • Serve as the 1 AU baseline for Voyager Electrons;
    In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space. The new payload AESOP-lite will be the only instrument that provides overlapping electron energies.
  • Search for the origin of the turn up in the low energy electron spectrum;
    Resolving electrons and positrons is vital to understanding both electron origin and propagation. AESOP-lite will be capable of charge sign separation at these energies.

Dr. John Clem, University of Delaware

Contact Persons

Dr. Mark Smith, Project manager, SSC
Dr. John Clem, University of Delaware
Dr. Qian Wu, High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Dr. David C. Fritts, GATS Inc.

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