We are now preparing for a long-duration circumpolar balloon flight from Spitsbergen island, Svalbard, 72.2 degrees north latitude. Together with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) SSC will perform preparations, launch and flight operations as well as recovery for the astronomy payload.
The purpose of this challenging project, called OLIMPO, is to map the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect in many clusters of galaxies, both in the Northern and in the Southern hemispheres. The 1.9-ton heavy payload will make its approximately 12 to 14 days long flight westwards from Svalbard at an altitude of 38 km. At this flight altitude, observation conditions of distant space objects are excellent, as the instrument’s view – unlike terrestrial observatories - is not hampered by the Earth atmosphere.
The launch is planned to take place from Longyearbyen this month, June 2018.
Image: The 1.9 heavy payload that will make a long flight westwards