Social Media Sidebar


Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.


Thomas Edison

NASA's Super Pressure Balloon glides past flight duration record

Posted in Science on 4th Jul, 2016 02:26 PM by AlexMuller

NASA has been sending balloons to high-altitudes as a cheap way of gathering atmospheric data, but they do have their limitations, such as sustaining long duration flights. NASA is trying to overcome this with its Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) designed to eventually remain airborne for more than 100 days at a time.


The floating observatory is edging closer to this goal, coming down to land on Saturday after 46 days in the air to set a new mid-latitude flight duration record for a balloon of its type.

At the moment, NASA and other researchers use what are known as zero pressure balloons to probe the mysteries of the atmosphere, and by extension our world and the universe as a whole. The data they collect with onboard instruments can help inform our understanding of atmospheric chemistry, but the problem is they can only fly for a maximum of two weeks at a time, with their endurance particularly limited at mid-latitudes.
This is because during the day time, the sun heats up the helium inside the balloon, causing it to expand and start to escape. Then after the sun goes down, the balloon and gas inside starts to cool and the balloon descends, sometimes by as much as 50,000 ft (15.2 km). The balloon therefore has to release ballast, around eight percent a day, to maintain altitude, which limits how long it can remain in the air for.
It's not so much of a problem over the polar regions where more constant weather conditions allow them to fly for up to two weeks at a time, but mid-latitude conditions aren't so accomodating. This is where NASA's Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) comes into play. The 18.8-million-cubic-foot (532,000-cubic-meter) balloon uses a closed system where no gases or ballast is released and the helium is pressurized, which allows it to float along at a more consistent altitude and, hopefully, for far longer periods at mid-latitudes.
The recently concluded voyage was the Super Pressure Balloon's second test flight, following a 32-day jaunt last year. The mission began back on May 17, launching from Wanaka, New Zealand, and came to an end on Saturday, July 2. This 46 day, 20 hour and 19 minute duration makes it the longest mid-latitude flight of a large scientific research balloon and marks an important milestone in NASA's efforts to bring these research tools to previously unexplored regions of our atmosphere.
"We're extremely pleased with the flight time we achieved with this mission, far and away the longest mid-latitude flight of a NASA heavy-lift balloon to date," says Debbie Fairbrother, NASA's Balloon Program Office chief. "We'll continue to strive for even longer duration flight, 100 days or more, and what we learn from this year's mission will help take us there."

Tags: balloonatmosphereresearchNASAEarthSuper Pressure Balloon

Read original article » Back to category



Recent headlines

  • Posted in Software on 2018-05-26 01:48:47
    From Here to Human-Level AGI in Four Simple more
    Posted in Science on 2018-05-26 01:41:34
    Research Team Builds a Brain Model Neuron By more
    Posted in Hardware on 2018-05-24 04:45:19
    30% Efficiency Solar more
    Posted in Software on 2018-05-24 04:41:49
    Samsung plans AI research centers in Canada, UK more
    Posted in Science on 2018-05-24 04:38:06
    Every 3-5 years SpaceX is adding a decade lead more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs, more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    In five years quantum computing will be more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Google partners with Johnson and Johnson to make lower more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Electron holography microscope with spatial resolution down more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Lower cost advanced Nuclear power could dominate future US more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Why Hasn’t AI Mastered Language Translation? more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Remember me

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Verify password:
Remember me