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Topic # 196050 17-May-2016 12:59
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Above image from flightrader.com.  It's going up fast at the moment - something like 1000 feet per minute.  Looks like it could be headed to fly over Timaru in an hour or so, but despite being large, I guess it may be no more than a very small dot in the sky.  I think maximum height is over 100,000 feet.  

 

Actually already over 70,000 feet while I typed this.  I guess they'll be very happy with that.

 

 

 

Edit - it's not heading for Timaru.  At about the 70,000 foot mark it climbed out of the SW jetstream into an Easterly, so reversed direction and is now heading to Australia at about 20 knots. Earth.Nullschool.net data suggests that if it stays at that altitude, it''ll head over Melbourne, then loop back around south of Tasmania, and might end up back over NZ.

 

 

 

Another edit - Flightradar folks have lost the signal.  It can still be tracked on NASA site.  It's already at 105,000 feet, heading NNW at 50 knots, and I can't see predicted winds at lower than 10hPa on nullschool, so no idea where it's heading.


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  Reply # 1554286 17-May-2016 16:53
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Currently at  110474 ft





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  Reply # 1554289 17-May-2016 17:04
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Wonder how many UFO reports are gonna come in?


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  Reply # 1554315 17-May-2016 17:58
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DarthKermit:

 

Wonder how many UFO reports are gonna come in?

 

 

I wonder how many UFOs it's gonna detect.


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  Reply # 1554333 17-May-2016 18:31
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Why have NASA launched a balloon in NZ?








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  Reply # 1554362 17-May-2016 19:32
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Geektastic:

 

Why have NASA launched a balloon in NZ?

 

 

 

 

I think the idea is to get a balloon capable of getting a large payload (several tonnes) to very high altitude.  In this case I believe the payload is a gamma ray telescope.  They've been test launching at mid latitudes.  Guessing a bit here, but at more polar latitudes then if it stayed there, it's going to be getting interference from the sun for longer periods, closer to the equator it might be harder to get it up to the altitudes they need, so more interference from atmospheric / local origin (ie gamma rays produced from solar or galactic cosmic ray collision with particles in the atmosphere).

 

The balloon itself when inflated is massive - the size of a football stadium.

 

 


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  Reply # 1554389 17-May-2016 20:58
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As with the loon tests, were in a good spot for the trade winds it seems. normally when launching from there it will skip across the bottom of south africa and south america before spiriling north toward canada over a period.

 

So nice still air of Wanaka like this morning, lets it get to altitude fast. And then it sticks in that band of sub-stratospheric 33KMs up and essentially float. I'm not sure they predicted it heading to australia this early though :)

 

There was reports of it being visible from Timaru still at about 70,000ft - much like the loons which sat around 65,000.

 

I lost it at about 74000ft, but if I leaned the antenna to 45deg I'm sure it would have held on longer. The sat tracking is still live however. 

 

http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/map/balloon9/Google669NT.htm


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  Reply # 1554467 17-May-2016 22:50
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Fred99:

 

 

 

The balloon itself when inflated is massive - the size of a football stadium.

 

 

 

 

 

Does one have a photo of such? Would love to see it. It didnt look that large from the news shots tho.





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  Reply # 1554492 17-May-2016 23:12
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One in here.. http://sites.wff.nasa.gov/code820/spb_background_development.html



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  Reply # 1554571 18-May-2016 09:02
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I couldn't find photos of it inflated, nor a good description of the balloon, nor a plain english description of the mission (gamma ray spectrometer and imaging). Best I could find about the balloon size was a newspaper report about the launch last year commenting that the balloon is constructed using "22 acres of fabric".  If that's the surface area and the balloon was spherical, then that suggests an inflated diameter of about 170 metres.

 

As far as the mission payload goes, then this:

 

 

Nuclear astrophysics studies the lifecycle and evolution of matter in our Universe: stellar evolution ending in supernovae, with the ejection of heavy nuclei back into the galaxy to be reborn in new stars. Radioactive nuclei produced through this cycle of creation emit characteristic photons that fingerprint the isotopes themselves, and quantify their abundance, speed, temperature, and attenuation. High spectral resolution measurements of these line emissions probe deep into the center of a supernova explosion, revealing the nuclear burning and dynamics in the core. Nuclear excitations and positron annihilations also reflect the extreme environment on the surface of neutron stars and white dwarfs, and near the event horizon of black holes. COSI is an important advance over current and historical gamma-ray instruments in two regards: its development and flight will provide a testing ground for novel event analysis, background reduction, and imaging techniques for gamma-ray astronomy, and break new ground in the measurement of polarized gamma-ray emission from astrophysical sources.

 

 

 

That must have been too much for TVNZ - who reported the launch with a headline describing it as a "massive weather balloon" .
OTOH it is a rather obscure and incomplete description.

 

Nasa have uploaded video of the launch:

 

 

 

 

A tiny HD webcam streaming video from the balloon wouldn't have weighed much (compared to payload capacity), and might have sparked a bit more public interest in the project itself.  IMO the boffins involved in the project could do with a little PR training.

 

 


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  Reply # 1554573 18-May-2016 09:05
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Maybe publicity is not what they're after? I bet NASA being NASA, would have rigged that thing with at least one camera.


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  Reply # 1554588 18-May-2016 09:13
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Fred99: 

 

A tiny HD webcam streaming video from the balloon wouldn't have weighed much (compared to payload capacity), and might have sparked a bit more public interest in the project itself.  IMO the boffins involved in the project could do with a little PR training.

 

 

 

It had one attached, with telemetry. The webcams shifted to it after launch for a time. You could see the atlimeter screaming while looking at the balloon above gently float and shift shape


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  Reply # 1554600 18-May-2016 09:26
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Hi Oblivian, you mentioned pointing your antenna at a 45 degree angle, presumably you were picking up a radio signal from the payload.  I'm curious about where you found details of the frequency and data formats being used for this project?  Any idea if it would it have been possible to pick up a signal using a suitable yaggi antenna and SDR dongle?


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  Reply # 1554606 18-May-2016 09:35
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dgashby:

 

Hi Oblivian, you mentioned pointing your antenna at a 45 degree angle, presumably you were picking up a radio signal from the payload.  I'm curious about where you found details of the frequency and data formats being used for this project?  Any idea if it would it have been possible to pick up a signal using a suitable yaggi antenna and SDR dongle?

 

 

 

 

I have an ADSB receiver, similar to what uploads the data to Flightradar for public display. And luckily this payload had a transponder on it to make it visible to civilian aircraft airspace. Can be done on a SDR dongle sure enough with Dump1090 (is at 1090mhz) and some other apps. Just I use a high gain external co-linear and it tends to have a signal map out to the sides rather than up, so when it gets too high we lose signal :)




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  Reply # 1554613 18-May-2016 09:51
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I'm not sure  - I'd have thought some publicity would be a good thing when politicians make decisions on public funding for research. 

 

I find this a bit frustrating as a layperson, if those involved in the project did an "AMA" on reddit - I'd be interested.  
For example, what actually is the purpose?  Are they putting the instruments up there in the hope that they've got something there capable of measuring gamma radiation in case there's a supernova locally (in our galaxy it only happens every few hundred years) or is it capable of "imaging" supernovae in distant galaxies, or just looking at background gamma radiation, or all of those.  
That's some amazing balloon fabric if 22 acres of it is strong enough, radiation resistant enough, impervious enough to hold the helium for 100 days, and light enough.  What is it? Would make a hell of a spinnaker.
I was guessing above about why they launch it at mid-latitudes.  Why here and not in the Northern hemisphere?  Less chance of problems with air-traffic as it ascends or descends, better chance that if it fails in a big way that a few tonnes of payload won't land on someone's head, is there some difference in composition or wind in the upper stratosphere, less electromagnetic interference, or is it just that they want more options?


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  Reply # 1554631 18-May-2016 10:10
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Fred99:

 

I'm not sure  - I'd have thought some publicity would be a good thing when politicians make decisions on public funding for research. 

 

I find this a bit frustrating as a layperson, if those involved in the project did an "AMA" on reddit - I'd be interested.  
For example, what actually is the purpose?  Are they putting the instruments up there in the hope that they've got something there capable of measuring gamma radiation in case there's a supernova locally (in our galaxy it only happens every few hundred years) or is it capable of "imaging" supernovae in distant galaxies, or just looking at background gamma radiation, or all of those.  
That's some amazing balloon fabric if 22 acres of it is strong enough, radiation resistant enough, impervious enough to hold the helium for 100 days, and light enough.  What is it? Would make a hell of a spinnaker.
I was guessing above about why they launch it at mid-latitudes.  Why here and not in the Northern hemisphere?  Less chance of problems with air-traffic as it ascends or descends, better chance that if it fails in a big way that a few tonnes of payload won't land on someone's head, is there some difference in composition or wind in the upper stratosphere, less electromagnetic interference, or is it just that they want more options?

 

 

 

 

Some light reading re the payload.

 

 

 

http://cosi.ssl.berkeley.edu/


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