The US space agency NASA has started testing of super pressure balloon (SPB) which will stay up in the air for about 100 days. Scientists at the American space agency successfully launched the gigantic balloon from Wanaka, New Zealand, from where it will circumnavigate the earth. SPB has been launched to test flight duration whether the balloon could survive 100-day flight at mid-latitudes.
The high-pressure balloon is equipped with equipment like Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI), a gamma-ray telescope developed by researchers at the Univeristy of California, Berkeley.
“The balloon is pressurised, healthy, and well on its way for this important test mission,” said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA’s Balloon Programme Office chief.
Fairbrother further revealed that the balloon reached at a height of 33.5 kilometers in just two hours and 8 minutes after lift-off and it started moving in the westward direction, but later it came in contact with the eastward flowing winter stratospheric cyclone and started floating in eastern direction. According to estimated wind speeds, the balloon will float over southern hemisphere once in every one to three weeks.
Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) will detect gamma rays emitted during the creation of new elements like when a star suddenly bursts out into Supernova and gives birth to new elements under incredibly high temperature and pressure. Since these conditions can’t be created on Earth thus, scientists will use balloons floating in the stratosphere for testing our understanding of nuclear physics.
Previous record flight was less than half (54 days) of the estimated flight of SPB. Previously, scientists had recorded some mysterious sounds in the space that were very new to the scientists.
The 532,000 cubic metre balloon will be visible from the naked eyes during sunset and sunrise for people living in South Africa and Argentina.
If successful, the mission will open gates for the new technology as balloons are way cheaper than the satellites. Balloons can revolutionize the space science as they are not only easier to build but its low cost and low maintenance will attract many projects.