NASA loses a balloon in the outback

The Nuclear Compton Telescope (PI Boggs at UCB’s SSL), a soft γ-ray telescope designed for balloon launch, observations in the stratosphere, and recovery, crashed because of a wind gust during an attempted launch in Australia earlier today.

ABC News (Oz) on youtube

NCT is an wide field imaging telescope with polarization capability.
Science goals were galactic nuclear emission lines for studies of nuclear synthesis in supernovae, and γ-ray polarization studies.
It flew last year out of the SFBF in New Mexico – guess they were going after southern sources and the galactic center this year.
Bad loss.



NCT payload – click to embiggen

Not quite enough crush padding, I’d say…

The single most annoying thing about this, is that the vast majority of the news sources that have covered this did not say what was on the f#cking balloon!
Just said “expensive scientific equipment…”

WHAT equipment? HOW expensive. Argh!
It is not like it takes any actual time to find this out given a computer and an internet connection.

Eric Bellm at Dispatches from the Field liveblogged it.



Picking up the pieces (click to embiggen – from goneballooning)

space.com coverage – good as usual

Comments

  1. #1 Pierce R. Butler
    April 29, 2010

    Is that actually the balloon coming down at the end there, or just some deity’s discarded condom?

  2. #2 Tristram Brelstaff
    April 30, 2010

    The single most annoying thing about this, is that the vast majority of the news sources that have covered this did not say what was on the f#cking balloon!

    With the word “nuclear” in its name, this is probably a good thing.

  3. #3 Phillip IV
    April 30, 2010

    Tristram Brelstaff @ #2:

    With the word “nuclear” in its name, this is probably a good thing.

    Yeah, that would probably have scared people – after all, a serious nuclear accident could turn the Australian outback into a desolate wasteland populated by hordes bizarre, lethally poisonous animals….oh, wait…

  4. #4 Pete
    May 1, 2010

    I hate it when balloons lose their mornings.