Press Release

Polar Patrol Balloons

By SpaceRef Editor
January 30, 2003
Filed under , ,

The Polar Patrol Balloon test (PPB) was conducted mainly by National Institute of Polar Research and Institute of Space and Astronautical Science from the end of December 2002 to the end of January 2003, where four large-scale scientific balloons will be launched from Showa Station to patrol around the South Pole. The four scientific balloons are comprised of three balloons for geophysical observation and one for astrophysics observation.

As the PPBs that patrol above Antarctica at high latitude travel across a wide area from latitude 50 degrees to 80 degrees on geomagnetic coordinates, they can observe various phenomena. To carry out geophysical observation, instruments for the observation of VLF waves, electric field, magnetic field and aurora X-rays as well as an electron counter are loaded into each of three balloons. It is expected that balloon cluster flight, which means to fly three balloons with the same onboard instruments closely together, will provide data on 2-dimensional spread and temporal change of various phenomena, which in turn will help elucidate the phenomena generated in the magnetospheric boundaries. For the space physics observations, it is expected that the PPBs that are able to carry out long, continuous observations lasting from 2 weeks to 1 month will be able to observe primary electrons with energy over 500 times higher than those conventionally observed in domestic balloon observations. These observations are expected to add new knowledge in the areas of generation source of cosmic rays and their propagation mechanism in the galactic system.

New balloon engineering technologies,such as units for transmitting observation data and controlling command via commercial satellite, power supply via solar batteries and nicad hydrogen batteries, and auto level control, will also be loaded into the balloons. The four scientific balloons that had successfully completed all performance and environment tests were loaded onto a South Pole observation ship “Shirase” and left Japan on November 14. They are now on their way to the South Pole. From ISAS, two engineers (Mr. Namiki and Mr. Matsuzaka) and one assistant (Mr. Saito) will join the test at Show a Station, launching the balloons and receiving radio waves.

SpaceRef staff editor.