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NASA's Super Pressure Balloon Completes Round-the-Globe Journey in 14 Days

Jun 02, 2016 05:12 PM EDT

NASA's super pressure balloon was released for its flight in New Zealand last May 17. 

The balloon needs to circumnavigate the globe in order to check its ability to fly, and to set a new record for the longest duration flown by an SPB as well. In just 14 days, NASA's super pressure balloon managed to complete its first round-the-globe mission.

Super pressure balloon successfully launched on a potentially record-breaking test flight:

- NASA Goddard (@NASAGoddard) May 23, 2016

The super pressure balloon is a 532,000-cubic-meter (18.8-million-cubic-foot) with the operational float altitude of 33.5 kilometers (110,000 feet). It is equipped with the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) gamma-ray telescope.

COSI is a balloon-borne soft gamma-ray telescope, according to the University of California, Berkeley's official website.

The huge super pressure balloon completed its journey on May 31, crossing the 169.24 east longitude line. This balloon completed the round-the-globe journey in 14 days, 13 hours and 17 minutes.  

"Long duration, heavy-lift scientific balloon flights are poised to open doors for science and technology payloads seeking low-cost access to the near-space environment," said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA's balloon program office chief, in a press release.

In the press release, NASA said that they will continue to push the SPB to its limits by continuing its journey with the COSI telescope aboard.

During the SBP journey, a gamma ray burst was detected by COSI. The gamma ray burst is the most energetic form of light which can last from millisecond to minutes. This proves that the instrument aboard the super pressure balloon is functioning well according to Steven Boggs, a physics professor at Berkeley.

The super pressure balloon is still flying and is in good health, according to NASA. The goal is for the balloon to travel the globe for 100 days. The completion of the first stage is a step closer to setting a longer flight duration record.

The super pressure balloon will help scientists in performing near-space scientific investigations.


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