the balloon makes a complete circle (or two) of Antarctica
it is commanded to drop TIGER via parachute to The Ice. A
team goes out to recover the instrument so that it can be
flown again in two years. TIGER has flown before in 1999.
Phil Austen is in charge of recovering the Long Duration balloon
payload. I dropped into his office and he immediately showed
me photos of the current location of the balloon on his computer
monitor. He gave me a website
where I could watch the path of the balloon myself. The perfect
balloon flight would return the balloon to the launching pad.
However an excellent balloon flight returns the balloon to
within a hundred miles of McMurdo, well within the range of
a recovery helicopter. Phil recounts how sometimes the flights
require the recovery team to fly twin otter aircraft to places
where no one has ever landed before. These are exciting missions,
full of hard work to recover the payload. And yet you can
see in his eyes and hear in his voice that Phil is looking
forward to getting out on the ice to recover the payload.
are man other people involved in the long duration balloon
and TIGER projects. I picked out three of them to introduce
to you. To find out more about the NSFB
balloons and about TIGER
go to their websites.
last note about perception. I saw the balloon slowly rise
toward the stratosphere against the blue sky of the Antarctic.
As it rose slowly and majestically the gas in the balloon
expanded. After a while the balloon appeared to stop rising
and to hang suspended in the sky. It was indeed still rising,
however as it got farther away, it was growing in size in
a way that made it appear to stand still. Once again perception
played a role in science.