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Space Science

BLAST Telescope About To Launch From Antarctica 51

mtruch writes "BLAST, the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope, is about to be launched from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. BLAST is a 2700 kg telescope with a 2 meter primary mirror that hangs from a 1.1 million cubic meter balloon floating at an altitude of 38 km that will study the star formation history of the universe. It will float west at nearly constant latitude for about 14 days until it is (hopefully) located over McMurdo again and will be terminated and recovered. Real time position and flight track is available from the CSBF. Watch the launch live via a crappy webcam link. Three of the graduate students working on the project have photo blogs of much of the prep period, and specifically Don's blog should have launch photos soon (bandwidth to/from McMurdo is at a premium). BLAST made it on Slashdot in the past, when it launched from Sweden in June 2005, and indirectly with an interview with Prof. Barth Netterfield and George Staikos. Yes, the flight computers still run Slack, and yes, we still use kst for data viewing and analysis. There is a Discovery Science show about BLAST and high-altitude balloons, and a future documentary film being made as well."
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BLAST Telescope About To Launch From Antarctica

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  • Re:I met this guy. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xandu ( 99419 ) * <matt.truch@net> on Thursday December 21, 2006 @11:02AM (#17324804) Homepage Journal
    It also had a two-meter mirror, but this one was made out of glass, (instead of aluminum) cost a million dollars, and shattered on takeoff.

    Well, it did have a two-meter mirror, and did cost $1 million. But it was made of carbon-fibre, and did not shatter. Yes, the launch was a little rought, and yes it didn't work perfectly at float, and yes there was damage to it when we recovered. But was that due to takeoff, landing, or both? I'm sure it was a little of both, but how much damage from launch we'll never know.
  • Re:Eskimo UFO (Score:2, Informative)

    by MaGogue ( 859961 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @11:10AM (#17324892)
    Uh, for this, you do not need google, but geometry [].

    If you extend a line from the centre of the Earth C, r=6500km through the baloon B at h=38km, and another line from the centre to the point A, from where it is theoretically still possible to see the baloon, the line BA is tangential to Earth, therefore ABC is a right angle triangle.

    Pythagoras gives sqr(|AC|)+sqr(|AB|)=sqr(|BC|), since |AC|=r, |BC|=r+h, and our distance x=|AB|, we have

    x=sqrt( (r+h)*(r+h) - r*r)=sqrt( 2*h*r+h*h)
    which because r>>h is approx. sqrt(2*h*r)=sqrt(6500*38*2)=703

    So, its about 700 kilometers, not very far from Antarctic continent. I't not visible from Australia or NZ.
  • Better link. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xandu ( 99419 ) * <matt.truch@net> on Thursday December 21, 2006 @11:16AM (#17324960) Homepage Journal
    Since the webcam is off (and slashdot couldn't link to it anyway), here's a link of a small movie [] (taken with a small digital camera) of the launch. It's from Don's blog [], which covers the entire campaign.

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