The Super-TIGER team informed us this morning that Super-TIGER, the WUSTL-led cosmic ray experiment, has been given the green light for a third circuit around Antarctica.
“If the balloon stays up for another time around, we get a lot more data, and–by the way–we break the heavy-lift scientific ballooning record of 42 days. This afternoon we will hit 33 days, and another circuit is sure to be at least ten days, likely more,” said Martin Israel, PhD, professor of physics at Washington University and co-investigator of Super-TIGER.
Ryan Murphy, a graduate student in physics who has been blogging and tweeting from the ice, points out they’ve already beaten one record:
Everyone on the team is exhilerated by the decision to go round once more because it means they’ll be buried in data but also because it’s just plain cool.
However, it also means they won’t know for another month whether they can recover the instrument this year.
Just after the decision was made, the balloon jogged south (closer to the South Pole), putting it further away from Williams Field, the base for balloon operations.
The worry is that it might spiral closer to the pole as it goes round the third time.
“Terminating near the end of January and very possibly far south of
McMurdo, would make recovery of the instrument this year unlikely,” said W. Robert Binns, PhD, research professor of physics and Super-TIGER principal investigator.
And if they had to wait until next December to recover and refurbish the instrument, Super-TIGER couldn’t fly again until December 2015.
In the meantime, everyone on the team is, er, shall we say, jazzed, as the latest blog post makes apparent.
Rrrr. Superrrr-TIGERRRR She’s a mighty fine balloon and a mighty fine detectorrrr. We’ll plunderrrr the skies for more cosmic ray booty! Raise the flag and send ‘errr around again, Matey!
The U.S. scientific long-duration high-altitude ballooning program is
funded by NASA, and is directed by NASA-Wallops. The ballooning
operations are performed by the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility
(CSBF) in Palestine, Tex. The National Science Foundation (NSF) directs
the U.S. Antarctic program.