2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
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2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

NASA Long Duration Balloon (LDB) support program

Aerial photo of the Long Duration Balloon (LDB) facility in Antarctica. Photo credit unknown.
A-145-M Research Location(s): McMurdo LDB Site


Event Number:
NSF / NASA Agreement

Program Director:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Kaija Webster / Chad Naughton

Principal Investigator(s)

Hugo Franco
Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo LDB Site


The NASA / Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) provides the balloon platform and project oversight for long-duration, high-altitude, balloon launches out of a facility on the Ross Ice Shelf. Launches are scheduled during December and may extend to early January. The payloads consist of the science instruments, command, and control systems with solar or battery power units. The bulk of the data collected is stored on onboard hard drives, with a small amount of data sent by radio telemetry to the science team’s home institution. CSBF also coordinates the integration and launch of the test flight hand-launched balloon payload LAURA (Long durAtion evalUation solaR hand lAunch). The goal of LAURA is to test, validate, and raise the technology readiness level (TRL) of CSBF support equipment for future Science flights out of Antarctica and Sweden.

Field Season Overview

CSBF will launch the balloons from the Long Duration Balloon site around the beginning of December when the upper wind circulation wind is estimated to set up. CSBF operations will begin mid-October setting up the launch equipment and assisting with the assembly of the science instruments. Launch ready date will be early December to take advantage of the wind circulation. The balloons will ascend to an altitude of between 115kft to 130kft and float around the Antarctic continent returning to the McMurdo Station area usually in 8 to 15 days, in some cases longer. The balloons will then be terminated over a suitable location and recovered.

Deploying Team Members

  • Tyler Barnard
  • Scott Battaion
  • Alexander Beange
  • Garrison Breeding
  • Dewell Cooper
  • Hugo Franco (PI)
  • Curtis Frazier
  • Randall Henderson
  • Derek Hogg
  • Joseph Jones
  • Brian Parker
  • Michael Sellers
  • Eric Smith
  • Nathan Sparks
  • Dick Tracy
  • Alejandro Vega
  • Cesar Villasana
  • Jonathan Walling
  • Corey Weber