DONEGAL SCIENTIST CONQUERS ANTARCTICA WITH AMAZING BALLOON RECORD

first_imgThe Super Tiger Balloon getting ready for its releaseA scientist from Glenties has set a new NASA long duration balloon record in Antarctica today.Dr. John E Ward, an Astrophysicist at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, has been in Antarctica since October getting ready for the record attempt.Dr. Ward is part of a NASA research project called Super-TIGER (Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder), a two-ton machine that collects cosmic-ray particles at the top of the atmosphere. The Northern lights, which were visible in Donegal last year, are made by cosmic rays colliding with the earth’s magnetic field.Dr Ward is pictured first on the left before the Super Tiger’s releaseAlthough cosmic rays were discovered over 100 years ago, physicists still do not know where in the Universe they come from.Dr. Ward and his team are trying to show that cosmic rays come from explosions within groups of enormous hot stars, known as OB associations.The Super-TIGER instrument is about the size of a snooker table and weighs in at around two tons. It was launched from the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica on a NASA high-altitude balloon on the 9th December 2012.The balloon itself is massive, weighing some 5,000 lbs. It is made of plastic a little thicker than cling film and when fully inflated could easily fit Croke Park inside it!The balloon has circled the South Pole twice, at an altitude of around 130,000 feet. So far the team have collected over 50 million cosmic-ray particles.This morning Dr. Ward’s balloon flight surpassed the previous record of 42 days, set in 2004 by another Donegal man, Jojo Boyle from Dungloe with the CREAM cosmic-ray project.It is expected that Dr. Ward’s balloon will stay in the air for another 10-14 days. When the balloon is back close to McMurdo Station, it will be brought down by a remote controlled explosion triggered from a NASA satellite that will rip a massive hole in the balloon and allow the Super-TIGER instrument to fall back to Earth on a parachute. Dr. Ward will then fly in a small Twin Otter ski plane to where ever in Antarctica that the parachute lands.His first job will be to secure the valuable data disks before dismantling and recovering the two ton instrument. Dr. Ward is expected to leave Antarctica at the close of the summer season in February.An image of the two and a quarter turns taken around the South Pole by the Super TigerDONEGAL SCIENTIST CONQUERS ANTARCTICA WITH AMAZING BALLOON RECORD was last modified: January 20th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:AntarcticaDr John E WardGlentiesNASASuper Tigerlast_img read more

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