NASA’s super pressure balloon carrying the Super Pressure Balloon Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) has successfully returned to Earth after nearly 40-day journey. The 18.8-million-cubic-foot (532,000-cubic-meter) balloon landed safely in an unpopulated area 66 nautical miles (122 kilometres) northeast of Gobernador Gregores, Argentina, after circling Southern Hemisphere five times, the agency said on Thursday.
The mission began at 11:42 a.m., Sunday, April 16 (New Zealand time) and concluded at 9:27 a.m. EDT, Thursday, May 25. Both the balloon and payload were safely recovered.
“This flight was, bar none, our best to date with the balloon flying nominally in the stratosphere and maintaining a stable float altitude. Achieving long-duration balloon flight through day and night conditions is an important goal for our program and the science community, and this flight has moved the needle significantly in validating and qualifying the balloon technology,” said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA’s Balloon Program Office chief at the Agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Welcome home, SuperBIT! 👏 After circling the Southern Hemisphere five times, the NASA super pressure balloon carrying the Super Pressure Balloon Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) science mission has safely returned to Earth.https://t.co/4bt6LLWGOI pic.twitter.com/8uWnmWQdwV
— NASA Wallops (@NASA_Wallops) May 25, 2023
The NASA Scientific Balloon Program aims to provide high-altitude scientific balloon platforms for scientific and technological investigations. The key advantages of using balloons for scientific research are – firstly, they can be launched from locations across the globe and secondly, they are a low-cost method to carry scientific payloads.
NASA is now gearing up for another science mission which is scheduled to launch from the agency’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in July 2023.