Aura Validation Balloon Campaign, Esrange, Sweden, Jan/Feb 2007

The JPL MkIV interferometer will perform a balloon flight from Esrange, Sweden, (67.9N, 21.1E) during February 2007 in order to measure profiles of atmospheric trace gases of relevance to the AURA sensors under cold winter conditions. High signal-to-noise ratio solar occultation spectra will be measured throughout the mid-infrared spectral region (650-5650 cm-1) at high spectral resolution (0.01 cm-1) at sunrise and sunset. These spectra will allow the simultaneous retrieval of profiles of more than 30 different atmospheric gases including O3 and H2O and NO2 which will also be measured by the MLS, HIRDLS and TES instruments on board the AURA spacecraft. On the same gondola is the in situ O3 photometer. A second gondola will be launched supporting the Far Infrared Spectrometer (FIRS-2), and the Stratospheric Limb Sounder (SLS-2).

The total payload weight of the MkIV gondola is 1385 lbs (630 kg). This includes the instruments, gondola, azimuth pointing system, batteries, the NSBF TM/TC system, crush pads, and recovery tools. MkIV is powered by 8 lithium batteries each weighing 11 lbs and providing a capacity of 35 AH at 28 V. The gondola dimensions are 52" x 64" x 82" . It will be launched on a balloon of 12 MCF volume (0.36 M m3), and will reach 34 km float altitude.

Latest Update:

Feb 13, 2007: Successfully checked out Az-Drive. Re-balanced gondola, and got a total weight of 1310 lbs (without crush-pads). The 20lbs increase is due to our recent incorporation of a plywood deflection shield under the iron maiden, and the corresponding extra balancing mass.

Feb 12, 2007: Repeated leak test.

Feb 11, 2007: Took sunruns

Feb 10, 2007: Fixed scanner

Feb 9, 2007: Discovered that the MkIV scanner is broken

Feb 8, 2007: Gondola is returned to Esrange at 14:15. It is very cold

Feb 7, 2007: MkIV launched at 03:13 UT for sunrise occultation. Upon reaching float (4.2 mbar or 34.0 km) at 05:05, balloon bursts. Helicopter unable to fly due to icing conditions. Ground-team unable to reach gondola on snowmobiles -- snow too deep.

Feb 6, 2007: Scrubbed twice (both sunrise and sunset). -36C at pick-up time.

Feb 5, 2007: Scrubbed for sunset launch opportunity.

Feb 4, 2007: Perfect launch conditions, but no vortex, yet.

Jan 25, 2007: MkIV payload passes compatibility. Gondola weight is 1290 lbs including batteries (8 MkIV+3 Az), the NSBF CIP, transmitters, and 65 lbs of balancing mass (but no crush-pads).

Jan 24, 2007: First MkIV sunruns look good.

Jan 24, 2007: SLS/FIRS2 payload launches. 45 minutes at float (10 mbar).

Jan 23, 2007: SLS/FIRS2 payload shows for launch, but too breezy

Jan 16, 2007: Bhaswar arrives in Esrange. Requirements Meeting held with CSBF and SSC. Started MkIV pressure test. Temperatures warm up to -6C but 20 cm of fresh snow.

Jan 12, 2007: Geoff, Jean-Francois, and Voltaire arrive in Esrange. It got down to -33C on the drive between Kiruna and Esrange.

Jan 10, 2007: Dave, Brian, Ken, Jess and Bob arrive in Esrange.

Repairing the MkIV scanner

Return of the MkIV gondola

Gondola recovery photographs (courtesy of SSC Esrange)

Sunrise Launch attempt -- success

Sunset Launch attempt -- scrubbed

Trip to the Ice Festival in Kiruna. -15C and breezy

Sunset with PSCs

Launch of the FIRS/SLS gondola

No sunruns on Jan 22

Assembly of the MkIV gondola

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