Purpose of the flight and payload description
The objective of the flight was to evaluate the feasibility of tracking a target lowered in the stratosphere as long optical path lengths are needed for in situ laser absorption monitoring of many trace stratospheric species. This experiment examined the possibility of employing a lowered retroreflector for the purpose of making such measurements.
The flight lasted for approximately 8 hours. Televised observations were made at a float altitude of 29.6 km for 6 hours. During the course of this experiment the target seldom deviated from the nadir position by more than a milliradian, while suspended by a cable at distances up to 500 meters below the gondola. Also the target was observed to spin. This along with other test performed that same year showed that the lowered retroreflector was a viable technique for implementing long path, in situ measurements in the stratosphere.
This would lead years later to the aplication of that principle in the Balloon-borne Laser In-Situ Sensor or BLISS, a high-resolution absorption spectrometer designed to provide measurements of the concentrations of ozone and other stratospheric species and their diurnal variations. It was flown eleven times under balloons between 1983 and 1992.
Details of the balloon flight
Balloon launched on: 6/4/1979
Launch site: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, Palestine, Texas, US
Balloon launched by: National Scientific Balloon Facility (NSBF)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon Raven 31.998 m3 (25.40 microns - X-124)
Flight identification number: 1145P
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 6/4/1979
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): F 6 h 30 m
Payload weight: 353 kgs