2019-2020 USAP Field Season
NASA Long Duration Balloon (LDB) support program
Mr. Hugo Franco
Project Web Site:
Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
During the austral summer, the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) launches balloons as part of NASA's Long-Duration Balloon (LDB) program. The balloons measure up to 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 float altitudes of up to 125,000 feet. Because of the Antarctic wind pattern that typically starts in early December, the balloons circumnavigate Antarctica between 70° and 80° south latitude for durations of 30-60 days on average. Payload are composed of scientific instruments, command and control systems, and solar- and/or battery-powered units. The bulk of the data collected is stored using onboard hard drives, with a small amount sent by radio telemetry to the United States.
Field Season Overview
Thirty-five field team members will facilitate the preparation, launch, and recovery of NASA-sponsored high-altitude balloons and science payloads from the Long Duration Balloon (LDB) launch facility. They will be housed at McMurdo and will make day trips to and from the site. The balloons will ascend to an altitude between 115,000 feet to 130,000 feet and float around the Antarctic continent, returning to the McMurdo area in one-to-60 days. The balloons will then be terminated over a suitable location and recovered by helicopter if the instrument package lands within range of LDB, or by Twin Otter or Basler if it lands farther out.
Deploying Team Members