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Scientist John Mitchell
Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek

Balloons Away

Launch of three long-duration experiments marks a first for program

Scientist John Mitchell, above, watches a balloon carrying the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass (CREAM) payload make its second trip around the Antarctic near McMurdo Station about two weeks after it was launched from the Long Duration Balloon Facility on the nearby ice shelf. The principal investigator for another long-duration balloon project called Balloon-borne Experiment with a Superconducting Spectrometer (BESS), Mitchell said it is highly unusual for a balloon-borne experiment to pass so close to its launch point. The CREAM balloon and payload dangling below were spotted Jan. 4 at an altitude of about 40 kilometers. A third experiment, Advanced Thin Ionization Calorimeter (ATIC), also made a successful launch. The launch and operation of three long-duration balloon experiments in one austral summer marked an historical occasion for the program. See the National Science Foundation press release Scientific Balloons Achieve Antarctic Flight Record External U.S. government site for more information.