Balloon staying grounded

The Extreme Universe Space Observatory payload which will be attached to Nasa’s super pressure balloon is wheeled out of its hanger at Wanaka Airport in preparation for a thwarted launch last week. Nasa does not expect to be able to attempt another launch
The Extreme Universe Space Observatory payload which will be attached to Nasa’s super pressure balloon is wheeled out of its hanger at Wanaka Airport in preparation for a thwarted launch last week. Nasa does not expect to be able to attempt another launch until next week. Photo from NASA/Bill Rodman.
An unsettled forecast for most of New Zealand over the next few days is likely to keep Nasa’s super pressure balloon on the ground until next week.

Multiple areas of low pressure, rain and unfavourable winds are expected to settle in across the country and prevent Nasa from launching the balloon from Wanaka Airport.

Three attempts to launch the balloon were made last week but unfavourable weather conditions both on the ground and in the stratosphere led to two attempts being aborted.

Another attempt on Saturday was cancelled because of a mechanical issue with a crane used by Nasa to launch the balloon, which has now been fixed.

Nasa on-site meteorologist Chris Schwantes said the forecast for next week looked much more promising for a launch.

‘‘Conditions do not look favourable for the next four to five days given the winds, forecast rain, and uncertainties with Tropical cyclone Cook to the northwest of us.

‘‘However, forecast models currently show high pressure building up in the area after the Easter weekend, which could lead to favourable conditions for launching.’’

Super pressure balloon campaign manager Justin Marsh said everything needed to be almost perfect to allow a launch.

Despite the three aborted attempts to date, the super pressure balloon team was ready to launch once conditions improved.

‘‘All things considered, it’s still relatively early in the campaign,’’ he said.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

 

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