Originally, NASA was scheduled to run a test flight of a super pressure balloon. The balloon was supposed to be launched today, however it has been rescheduled for May 2nd (May 1st in the USA).
The flight will take place in New Zealand, specifically at the Wanaka Airport. The purpose of this mission is to detect ultra-high energy cosmic-ray particles from beyond our galaxy as they penetrate our atmosphere.
NASA also launched another balloon before this one, which carries the Super Pressure Balloon Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT). This high-resolution telescope captures images on the visible-to-near ultraviolet light spectrum, which equates to the same capabilities as the Hubble Space Telescope.
You might be thinking, why bother with this telescope at all? Mainly, it comes down to cost. Using balloons, they don’t have to attach the telescope to a rocket. However, there are downsides – these balloons only navigate the earth for 100 days.
For those interested in watching this launch, NASA will host a live event right here.
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman