Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility Tour

Sign outside
This is the only pic I did not take- there was not a launch the day we were there.

Control tower used when they have balloon launches

Map of where to launch balloons in command center

Map of Antarctica, where they sometimes do launches

Material the research balloons are made out of.

Cardboard that protects the "payload"-scientific testing instruments.

Nylon parachute

"Tiny Tim- a huge and loud machine that is not tiny!

       
The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility  is a place where scientists launch research balloons and control launches all over the world. Our group toured the facility, and  learned all about it. The research balloons are made out of a material that feels like and is about the same thickness(0.2 cm) of a plastic baggie-(like Ziploc). Underneath it is something called a payload. The payload is a special load of computers that ride at the bottom of the balloon. They test stuff like the temperature of the atmosphere were space meets our  atmosphere, and classified info,too. When the scientists want the balloon to come down, they press a button and a parachute comes out, helping the balloon come safely down. So far no one has been hurt by a balloon. The balloons are launched from Sweden, Australia, Palestine,Texas, and Antarctica, etc. The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility is the place in Palestine, Texas. The Facility's website says "We provide the services of launching large (400 ft. dia), unmanned, high altitude (120,000 ft.), research balloons; tracking, and recovering the scientific experiments suspended beneath them, for NASA centers and universities from all over the world."  It was a really fun trip, and I enjoyed it.

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