BOOMERANG 1998 Long Duration Balloon Flight: Pictures from Antarctica

Assembly

On the road from McMurdo to our work site at Willy Field, we crested a hill to see New Zealand's Scott Base (the green buildings in the middle of the picture) and the Ross Ice Shelf (the white area beyond).  Willy Field is barely visible on the horizon.   
We spent all our time working in the high bay at Willy Field. On the right is our computing facility, and on the left is the payload staging area where Boomerang was assembled.  This picture was taken from the loft, where the all-important coffee pot was located.
 
A backlit image of the gondola frame being assembled. The white wall is the cloth "highbay door" that separates the work area from the cold outdoors.  
BOOMERANG on the "front porch" of the highbay, hanging from the gantry crane while undergoing tests.
 
The payload hangs from the launch vehicle outside the highbay for testing.  The dark panels at the bottom are the solar cells that power the NASA communications and tracking equipment.  
BOOMERANG sits on a platform while various pointing sensors are tested.  The dark panels on the back are the solar cells that power our instrumentation.  The white tubes at the top support our differential GPS array.  The large shields on the gondola's side keep the sun from interfering with our measurements of the cosmic background.

 

Launch

BOOMERANG hangs from the lauch vehicle just before flight.  The cables that tether the gondola to the balloon are seen running over the top of the launch vehicle and off the left side of the picture.  
BOOMERANG's balloon, partially inflated, just prior to launch.  The folks from NASA's National Scientific Ballooning Facility are in charge of the balloon launch.
BOOMERANG climbs rapidly through the atmosphere immediately after launch.
The balloon and payload an altitude of 9 miles, still rising. BOOMERANG continues to climb to an altitude of 120,000 feet (22 miles) where the atmosphere is less than 1 percent of its density at sea level.

 

Flight

BOOMERANG was launched on December 29, 1998.  For the next 10.5 days it floated slowly around the Antarctica at an altitude of 120,000 feet. 

We kept track of its status via a satellite link, and refined our observations as we analyzed the data that came through the link.  Finally, after a complete circle, the payload was dropped by parachute to a spot about 50 km from the launch pad, for an easy recovery.


 

Landing and Recovery

BOOMERANG coming down on the parachute, about to land on the snow...
 
BOOMERANG lying in the snow after landing, awaiting the recovery crew.  They shuttled to the landing spot by helicopter, to ready the payload for its trip home.  
Finally, BOOMERANG is lifted from the snow by a helicopter, for its trip back to the highbay after a very successful flight!



Copyright by the BOOMERANG Collaboration

Last update: 04/25/2000