Nasa deflated after balloon develops leak

The success of Nasa’s second super-pressure balloon launch in Wānaka on Saturday has been short lived.

After more than a day in flight, the balloon, carrying the Extreme Universe Space Observatory 2 (EUSO-2), developed a leak forcing flight controllers to terminate the flight over the Pacific Ocean.

The Nasa teams attempted to troubleshoot by dropping ballast to maintain the balloon’s altitude however it was decided to safely terminate the balloon over the Pacific Ocean.

Nasa will investigate the cause of the anomaly.

The Nasa super pressure balloon and its payload take off at Wānaka Airport on Saturday. PHOTO:...
The Nasa super pressure balloon and its payload take off at Wānaka Airport on Saturday. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON
It was an "unfortunate" end to the mission, Nasa scientific balloon program chief Debbie Fairbrother said.

"We will investigate the cause to help us continue to improve the super pressure balloon technology."

Prior to beginning its mid-latitude flight programme in 2015, Nasa conducted a thorough environmental analysis of an open-ocean landing.

The open-ocean flight termination procedure uses the two-tonne flight payload as an anchor to pull the entire balloon flight train to the bottom of the ocean as quickly as possible, removing it from the primary water column zone where most marine species are known to live and minimising environmental impacts.

The first super pressure balloon carrying SuperBIT launched at Wānaka Airport on April16 is on its fourth revolution of the Southern Hemisphere.

shannon.thomson@odt.co.nz

 

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