Leak cuts NASA balloon’s telescope mission short, denying record

By on January 5, 2015

Only two days after the launch of its most ambitious scientific balloon, NASA has brought the instrument down due to a leak, Nature reported.

NASA launched the scientific balloon carrying the Compton Spectrometer and Imager on Dec. 28 with plans to keep it afloat for 100 days or more, a feat that would have doubled the current record for a scientific balloon flight. But a leak in the 532,000-cubic-meter balloon prompted the agency to bring it down on Antarctic ice just before the new year. Researchers from Antarctica’s McMurdo Station will collect the instrument.

The COSI telescope is designed to observe high-energy photons and determine their origins. Data from the instrument could help discover black holes, pulsars and other cosmic objects.

Top image: The balloon ascends through the Antarctic sky. (COSI collaboration / NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility)

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