Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility
Dates in Antarctica:
Mid October to late January
Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: LDB Facility at Williams Field
This austral summer, the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) will launch three stratospheric balloons as part of NASA’s Long Duration Balloon (LDB) program. The balloons measure 400 feet in diameter, expand to a volume of 40 million cubic feet, and ascend at a rate of about 900 feet per minute to a float altitude of 125,000 feet. The payloads are composed of scientific instruments, command and control systems, and solar and/or battery-powered units. The bulk of the data collected is stored on onboard hard drives, with a small amount sent by radio telemetry to the United States. Because of the Antarctic wind pattern that starts in early December, the balloons will circumnavigate Antarctica between 70 and 80 degrees south latitude.
Field Season Overview:
This year’s science payloads are Shaul Hananay’s E and B Experiment (EBEX, A-146), Mark Devlin’s Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST, A-147), and Walter Binns’ SuperTIGER (A-142). The project teams are housed at McMurdo and commute to the Williams Field launch facility. Balloons are rigged and payloads are prepared in advance so they can launch as soon as weather and wind patterns permit. Upon termination of the flights, recovery teams use fixed-wing and/or helicopter support to retrieve the instrument and its parachute. A contract camp manager, equipment operator, cook and general assistant (GA) are assigned to the facility. Each year, the prime contractor’s facility maintenance division sets up and takes down the camp buildings. The operations division prepares the launch pad, maintains the roads, and services the generators.
Deploying Team Members: