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

Project Title

Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO)

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Scott Battaion / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator

Dr. Christopher Walker

University of Arizona Tucson
Steward Observatory
Tucson, Arizona


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Williams Field


The Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO) is a Long Duration Balloon (LDB) experiment designed to address a key problem in modern astrophysics: understanding the life cycle of the Interstellar Medium (ISM). During its upcoming science flight from Williams Field, STO will survey a section of the Milky Way using a balloon-borne, 0.8-meter optical telescope and ultra-high-frequency receivers tuned to monitor the emission from interstellar clouds containing carbon and nitrogen atoms.

Field Season Overview

This project will use the Long Duration Balloon (LDB) payload facility on the permanent ice shelf beyond Williams Field. Field team members will set up a workspace, unpack equipment, and begin to commission the LDB payload systems comprised of the gondola, telescope, pointing systems, telecommunications, SIP interface, and science instrument and cryogenic systems. Once each subsystem is validated, the team will work toward the goal of being ready for flight by the first week of December. After the mission launch, the majority of the technical team will redeploy, leaving the missions operations and science team, with the final remaining participants consisting of the payload recovery team, if applicable.

Deploying Team Members

  • Michael Carpenter
  • Kristina Davis
  • Ruben Dominguez
  • Brian Duffy
  • Christopher Groppi
  • Darren Hayton
  • Craig Kulesa (Co-PI)
  • William Peters
  • Jose Siles Perez
  • Antony Stark
  • Peter Thompson
  • Christopher Walker (PI)
  • Abram Young