On Monday night, NASA and the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) launched the third and last balloon borne experiment within the NASA summer campaign 2011. The HiWind instrument, observing daytime thermospheric winds, was launched from Esrange Space Center and is now on its way to Canada were it will land within 4-6 days.
| HiWind ready for launch
|| Launch in the midnight sun.
The HiWind instrument weighs ~1000 kg and is lifted up by a balloon of 1.12 million cube meters. It reached a height of 40 km, where it will stay during the entire flight. The instrument will be sun pointing during the day and north pointing during the night.
“We are very glad to state that three large balloons has been successfully launched within a relatively short time frame”, says Mr. Lennart Poromaa, President of Science Services, SSC. “Within one month we have had stable winds and we can once again note that our geographical location is perfect for long duration balloon flights for polar latitude observations “, Mr Poromaa concludes.
“This is the first flight of HiWind and we are very excited about this mission”, says Dr. Qian Wu, head of the HiWind team. “The thermospheric wind data will enable us to have a better understanding of the ionosphere and thermosphere interaction in the polar region and lead to a better forecasting of ionospheric changes in the future”, Dr. Wu concludes.
HiWind is a Fabry-Perot interferometer and will be the first balloon-borne FPI to measure the daytime thermospheric winds. Thereby it will open up a new window to explore the thermosphere. These winds are critically needed for space weather research and the HiWind data will lead to a better understanding of the energy transfer process from the magnetosphere to the ionosphere. The understanding of space weather is important for several reasons as it affects systems that we relay on in our daily life, for example space systems as GPS signals, ground systems as long distance radio signals and the terrestrial weather system.
Collaboration with Swedish scientists in Kiruna
The HiWind team will collaborate with several scientific teams that have ground based instruments (incoherent scatter radars) along the flight trajectory. One of these teams is the EISCAT team based in Kiruna and lead by Dr. Esa Turunen. International collaboration is a key component for modern scientific research. EISCAT supports the HiWind experiment from their new peer-review experiment time pool, where proposals are welcomed by non-EISCAT countries and evaluated by their scientific merit only. The EISCAT peer-review approach aims to promote high-quality science, such as the HiWind project. Dr. Wu and Dr. Turunen are also planning for collaborations on future balloon flights from Esrange.
The next balloon-borne scientific instrument planned to be launched from Esrange Space Center is PoGOLite, a Swedish scientific payload to measure. The launch window opens on 27 June.
Where is the balloon right now?
Follow the HiWind flight in "LDB Relayed Real Time GPS Data"
SSC’s web site about the NASA summer campaign and Hi-Wind
The scientist’s web site about Hi-Wind: http://www.hao.ucar.edu/staff/HAOInTheNews/HiWindSwedenFlightJune2011.php
EISCAT about Hi-Wind
SSC’s web site about PoGOLite (next balloon launch)
For further information contact
Tomas Hedqvist, project manager at Esrange Space Center
+46 980 720 16 or +46 70 517 20 16