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NASA Space Science

Frozen Researchers Set Antarctic Ballooning Record 35

coondoggie writes to mention NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have announced a new record in the history of scientific ballooning in Antarctica. The new record was established by 'launching and operating three long-duration sub-orbital flights simultaneously within a single southern-hemisphere summer'. "The milestone is significant, as it occurs during the height of the International Polar Year (IPY), a coordinated scientific campaign that is utilizing scientists from more than 60 nations. NSF is the lead federal agency for IPY, which began in March 2007 and will continue until 2009 to allow for two full years of observations and field work in parts of the world that are generally uninhabitable for as long as six months each year, researchers said. "
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Frozen Researchers Set Antarctic Ballooning Record

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  • Blagofaire (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ryukotsusei ( 1164453 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:32AM (#21919684)
    Was Cory Doctorow [] on one of the balloons?
  • launching and operating three long-duration sub-orbital flights

    How much ballooning is done in orbit?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... Frozen Researchers...

    I sure hope they thaw them out before they leave Antarctica.
  • you'd think scientists from over 60 countries could get more than a couple balloons to fly, even in antarctica.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Launching a balloon through the CSBF is a surprisingly difficult process. Numerous test flights are needed (usually stateside) and actually transporting the payload to the ice is an arduous process. This isn't even mentioning any work that needs to be done on the ice.

      The lifetime to get such a project to the ice and launched is on the order of years, barring any major problems.

    • Frost post (Score:3, Informative)

      I thought that the problem was that frost accumulated on the balloon too readily, so it is not as easy as one might think.
  • IceCREAM (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From TFA

    The key payloads this winter were: The University of Maryland's Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass (CREAM) payload which was launched on Dec. 19
    I'll bet many a bad joke came out of that.

    Scientist 1:"Hey, we have the Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass in Antarctica. Its ice-CREAM!"

    Scientist 2: "Shut the hell up, Bob."
  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:52AM (#21920332) Journal
    The launch crew was working in full summer daylight, temperatures between 20 and 33 F.
    The telemetry team is in Palestine Texas. Actually the night temperatures there were about the same as Antarctica the last couple days. The researchers, though, are at their respective institutions. No researchers were frozen during the making of TFA.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tpheiska ( 1145505 )
      That would be between about 0 to -7 C for the rest of the world.
      HTH. HAND.
    • by Xandu ( 99419 )
      I'm sure some of the researchers are at McMurdo, and haven't yet gone home to their respective institutions.

      I was there last year to help launch BLAST [], which was up in the air at the same time as two other experiments, ANITA []and SBI []. Wait, that's also 3 simultaneous experiments. Weird record. I guess they didn't count SBI last year since it has pointing issues and they terminated the flight within 12 hours since it was unable to get any science. I felt bad for them. But there were 3 balloons up at the
  • I mean, an orbital balloon flight would be a real first, not to mention a bit frightening.
  • Tax dollars well spent?
  • It is time to consider how to do something like this for mars. So far, we either have orbiters, stationary landers or a couple of slow moving rovers. A ballon or a set of wings would allow us to look around a great deal more. If by balloon, we could map at far better resolution.
  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @10:54AM (#21922638)
    International Polar Year (IPY) [...] began in March 2007 and will continue until 2009

    Is this another of those NASA metric thingies?
    • It certainly is a bit of a misnomer, but the idea is to give researchers in both the Arctic and Antarctic two full summer/winter cycles to conduct their research under the blanket of the IPY. A single annual cycle is a bit restrictive for a lot of programs.

      You can read more about the IPY here: []

      A lot of researchers are using the International Polar Year to springboard new projects that will begin, or continue, long past 2009. In fact, we hope to be one of those three groups launching a

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