2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar flares (GRIPS)

Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar flares (GRIPS)


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Ryan Wallace / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator

Dr. Pascal Saint-Hilaire

University of California Berkeley
Space Sciences Laboratory
Berkeley, California

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: Williams Field


The Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar flares (GRIPS) is a high-altitude balloon-borne experiment. GRIPS will provide detailed high-resolution spectroscopy, imaging, and polarimetry of the gamma/hard x-ray (HXR) spectrum over wide ranges of energy (20 kilo-electron-Volts to 10 million-electron-Volts) and spatial resolutions (quasi-continuously from 12.5 - 162 arcseconds). GRIPS will shed light on a number of solar flare mysteries: (1) Do all flares accelerate ions? (2) Which ions are accelerated and when? (3) What causes the separation between the ion-produced gamma rays and energetic electron HXR emissions in the foot points of flares? (4) Are the accelerated electrons anisotropic? and (5) What are the properties of coronal gamma-ray sources?

Field Season Overview

At McMurdo, field team members will facilitate the preparation, launch, and recovery of NASA-sponsored high-altitude balloons and science payloads. They will be housed at McMurdo Station and will commute daily to the Williams Field launch facility. Balloon and payload preparations are timed to coincide with favorable weather and wind patterns. Upon termination of the flights, recovery teams will use fixed-wing and/or helicopter support to retrieve the payloads.

At the South Pole this season researchers will recover the GRIPS gondola and science equipment from its 2015-16 flight. Over the course of approximately one week, two GRIPS team members will camp and make multiple trips by Twin Otter aircraft between the balloon payload impact site and South Pole Station until all their equipment is recovered.

Deploying Team Members

  • Hazel Bain
  • Nicole Duncan (Team Leader)