Successful launch @Esrange

On September 11th a new stratospheric balloon launch has been performed from the Esrange base of the Swedish Space Corporation, near Kiruna in the Nord of Sweden.

Six payloads have been launched on board a Zero Pressure Balloon within the HEMERA program, selected during the Second Call of Proposals.

After a week of intense work of all the researchers and engineers involved, the instruments were finallyintegrated on the gondola the day before the launch. Then, mechanical and stress tests were performed on the gondola the same day.

The launch was very successful thanks to the SSC launch team and the meteorological condition of the day. After the launch, the balloon reached the ceiling altitude in the stratosphere at a height of 33 km where floatedfor 3 hours. 

The flight lasted 9 hours in total during which the balloon passed over Sweden and Finland, landing close to the Russian border. 

The recovery started the next day, on Sunday 12. The two SSC recovery teams reached the landed gondola and flight train with a helicopter and a truck. Both the balloon and the gondolas were recovered and broad back to  the Esrange facilities on Monday morning. The instruments were almost intact and functioning even after the landing on the Finland trees. 

The scientific instruments onboard of the gondola during this launch were:

  • STRAINS, coordinated and supported by ASI, is a project of the “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy, led by Prof. Santoni. Its goal is to study the long distance tracking of the stratospheric balloons, by using the TDOA (Time Difference of Arrival) and FDOA (Frequency Difference of Arrival) techniques. The experiment is developed by the S5Lab research group at “la Sapienza” and by its students. In order to exploit such tracking techniques, the stratospheric unit mainly broughts transmitting antennas on-board, while five mobile stations in Sweden received the dummy signals from the stratosphere to evaluate the balloon position.
  • DUSTER, coordinated and supported by ASI, is a project of INAF led by Dr. Vincenzo Della Corte and Prof. Alessandra Rotundi. This instrument collects and retrieves stratospheric solid aerosol. The aim is to analize these particles in the laboratories in order to better understand the origin of the Solar System.
  • GRASS, supported by the HEMERA program, ASI, and AHEAD, is an INAF project led by Dr. Lorenzo Natalucci. The instrument is a small, innovative gamma-ray detector aimed at measure the parameters of the cosmic and atmospheric background in the north pole region. This is fundamental to correctly analize the high energy data.
  • BAMARA is a DLR project of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the German Aerospace Center. The instrument is a complex mass spectrometer which includes a cryopump operated with liquid neon (-250 °Celsius). The aim is to measure trace gases and ion clusters connected to the man-made emissions, in order to understand how these emissions alter the properties of the aerosol layer, in particular in the light of changing emissions of sulfur dioxide.           
  • B-TRUE is a Finnish experiment aimed to measuring the characteristics of the electrons in the high atmosphere using a silicon telescope. 
  • SRATOBUS is an experiment managed by Thales-Alenia Toulon (France) to test the Emergency Recovery Capacity (ERC) for the STRATOBUS program. The flight is part of a bigger project within CNES concerning establishing a network of blimps at 19-21 km. The test experiment was designed to better understand how to ”detonate” the envelope of the blimps in case of loss of control. Stratobus was mounted on a separate gondola hanging below the HEMERA gondola.

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