Skip to comments.Giant NASA Balloon Mission to See Comet ISON Suffers Telescope Glitch
Posted on 10/01/2013 8:55:16 PM PDT by oxcart
An ambitious one-day mission to observe the potentially dazzling Comet ISON with a telescope dangling from a colossal NASA balloon this weekend has failed due to a mechanical glitch, NASA officials say.
The mission, called the Balloon Rapid Response for ISON (BRRISON), lifted off from Fort Sumner, N.M., on Saturday (Sept. 28) in a bid to make telescope observations of Comet ISON which some scientists have dubbed as a potential "comet of the century" if brightens on its way into the inner solar system. The telescope-toting balloon aimed to observe the comet from the Earth's upper atmosphere in infrared and ultraviolet/visible wavelengths of light.
But roughly two and a half hours after the BRRISON balloon's launch, the 0.8-meter telescope on its science gondola platform returned to a stowed position too rapidly. That motion drove the telescope past an internal latch, causing it to jam, mission officials said.
"The telescope was unable to be redeployed despite numerous attempts by the BRRISON team from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which built BRRISON for NASA," according to a NASA statement after the balloon returned to Earth.
The in-flight problem prevented the payload from collecting its much-anticipated photos of Comet ISON. An Interim Response Team was expected to assess the BRRISON payload during recovery operations on Sunday.
The BRRISON mission flew on a zero-pressure balloon and was billed as the first NASA Planetary Science Division balloon mission ever aimed at observing a comet. The project cost totaled $11 million, but while a scientific data loss, the gondola-carried payload is in the process of being recovered and should be available for reuse as much as possible on another mission.
The fast-paced BRRISON project was sponsored by NASA, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute. It is one of several projects underway to study Comet ISON in detail during its swing through the inner solar system.
Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for. Will Rogers
Couldn’t they see it from the ISS?
Probably Ted Cruz’s fault...
Or maybe lower level TEA party saboteurs.
I remember back in the old days when we used to do this kind of stuff with world class giant rockets. NOW WE CAN’T EVEN DO IT WITH BALLOONS!!!
My, how far has NASA fallen, thanks to our boy president.
The Obama administration will now drape the giant deflated balloon over Mount Rushmore, “closing” the monument during the govt shutdown.
The cardboard tube used to make the telescope got damp and warped. NASA is at the discount carpet outlet waiting for another tube to come available.
Sounds like a poor design in several ways. Get some high school kids on the job.
Almost a half-century ago, this country was capable of sending men to the Moon. Now NASA can't handle an invention from the 18'th century.
There ya go