SOLVE2 Campaign, Esrange, Sweden, Mar-Apr 2003

The JPL MkIV interferometer will perform balloon flights from Esrange, Sweden (67.9N, 21.1E), during the winter of 2002/3 in order to measure profiles of atmospheric trace gases of relevance to the second SAGE III Ozone Loss and Validation Experiment (SOLVE2). High signal-to-noise ratio solar occultation spectra will be measured throughout the mid-infrared region (650-5650 cm-1) at high spectral resolution (0.01 cm-1) at sunrise or 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 SAGE III instrument. Simultaneous MkIV observations of NO, NO2 and N2O5 will also place constraints on the SAGE III measurements of NO3. On the same gondola will be the in-situ O3 photometer (PI: Margitan, JPL).

The total payload weight is 633 kg. This includes the instruments, gondola, azimuth pointing system, batteries, the CNES TM/TC system, crush pads, and recovery tools. This equipment is powered by 13 lithium batteries each weighing 5 kg and providing a capacity of 35 AH at 28 V. The gondola dimensions are 1.35m x 1.60m x 2.25m. It will be launched on a balloon of 150,000 m3 (5 MCF) capacity, reaching a 32.4 km float altitude.

Latest Update (Apr-2):

Yesterday (April 1), MkIV had a successful sunrise flight. The payload is already back in Esrange and appears to be in good condition

Gondola Preparation and testing.

The MkIV instrument is tested by taking ground-based solar spectra through the hangar door.

Launch attempt: March 31, 2003.

Our first trip onto the launch pad ended in disappointment. 15 minutes before scheduled launch time, the main balloon ripped.

Launch: 23:45 UT, March 31, 2003.

Ten hours later the MkIV was launched.

MAXUS Rocket Launch

To celebrate the successful MkIV balloon flight, Swedes launched a MAXUS_5 rocket one hour after the MkIV payload landed. (Just kidding -- the rocket launch was scheduled months ago). MAXUS was carrying several European micro-gravity experiments. We watched it from Radar Hill, 3 km distant. The two picture show T=-5 s and T=+1 s.

Azimuth Drive Performance

Plots below show the azimuth heading, torque, and encoder angle.


Belgian Olympic hopeful, Jean-François "Double-Espresso-Choc" Blavier, displays his superior technique in the "cross-country luge" competition.


The MkIV payload was recovered near the village of Somma in NE Finland. It was returned to Esrange less than 24 hours after the launch.

The gondola without thermal insulation.

Some final photos before we disassembled the gondola.

Packing Up

The MkIV equipment was transported to and from Sweden inside two air-freight containers.

Esrange Environs

Some photos around Esrange:

Panorama from the Basilica roof:

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