Wednesday, November 23, 2011

LDB- Long Duration Balloon

"It is a super-pressure balloon made of a composite fabric (polyester + polyethylene film and fabric) that is filled with Helium and hermetically sealed. Meridional tendons provide additional rigidity to the envelope. The pressure inside the envelop is maintained above the ambient pressure at all times to keep the balloon afloat at a constant altitude. During daytime the internal pressure increases due to solar heating but the volume remains constant due to the rigidity of the envelope. At night the pressure drops due to infrared radiative cooling to space, but as long as the internal pressure remains above the ambient pressure, the balloon stays at the same altitude."

OK, so that's what I found on the internet. That was not this exact project, but the same idea. From what I got from the doctor I spoke with was, their balloon was taking up equipment (explanation forthcoming); to read/ measure radio waves given off from matter in space. He said they were going to map The Milky Way and read carbon particles....and ?????.....that's where he kinda lost me. So......

Finally got a ride on "Ivan", unfortuatelly, Sysco doesn't deliver here, so we pack it all out.

Yes, welcome. First a quick tour of the facility. There are two hangers working on the project. One has the telescope and a really awesome radio receiver; but unfortunately it is top secret so no pictures. No seriously they got really upset when I turned with camera in hand in the direction of said equipment.
The reason why:

Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law.[1] Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions. (Wikipedia)

So, I guess it's understandable given my current following; that they wouldn't want me to post pictures. Moving on....The telescope was OK to photo, so:


This is the main section of the payload. It will have two 10 foot solar panels also, one on each side like wings. This is how they power it. Aforementioned radio thingy; "official name", will also be attached. The payload will weigh in at approximately 3500 pounds. The other hanger contained the riggers. It is way more complicated than just attaching everything to the balloon. Apparently, this is more complicated than the balloon you tie your name and address to and release back in the day. It is extremely controllable. Upon return, the balloon, or rather the payload is cut loose. After free falling parachutes are released. Once that gets it low enough they break away too. The parachute must be released to avoid uncontrolled drifting. Pretty intense stuff.

Once the balloon is up it is controlled by radio waves initially, then they switch to satellite once it crosses the horizon. Everything is monitored and controlled in the Telemetry building.

 See if you can read the times. Are you wondering what I am? That's all I'm saying....

The signifigance of this is to prove that not all metal heads are bums. Of course this guy was not in his cubicle, but I don't want to speculate....

So once this is all ready to go they have to lauch the balloon....much bigger process than one would think. It is moved to the launch pad on a truck:

Yeah, a big truck. Thats a full size bulldozer next to it. So how big is the balloon? Well it filled with 38,000,000 ft2 of He. That's 38 million cubic feet of helium!

 It is only partially filled and expands as it rises. Hopefully I will get to see this launch, but it looks like this.

It will go up about 130,000ft. So, pretty cool huh? Everything out there was both cool (ha!), and different. Everything is on the sea ice, so it can't be left there. Every year it is moved back and then returned to the launch area the following year. How to accomplish this? Well it's snow.....skis!

So what am I doing out here? Training to go into guess.....

Cooking on Ice!!!!!

That's the galley. It's too far to drive in just to have lunch, so we cook out there.It's pretty basic, but there are only about 40-50 people to cook for. This is far less scientific so I will breeze through it.

 You must be this tall to eat in the galley...

But seriouslly you must wash your hands. There is no running water, so there are two tanks to the right of this sink. They must be inside for obvious reasons.

So here it is; the Galley!!!! (insert choirs of angels singing here...)

It's like a semi perminent tent. It uses propane for cooking....

Best part is the bomb shelter...uh I mean freezer. No need to have a actual freezer. Just dig one in the snow and ice and put stairs and a door on it.....Awesome!!!!

They live here...don't ask...

About -15 or so, not bad for a natural freezer. The other thing that was pretty different, actually cool, was taking out the trash. Yeah never thought I'd say that. Instead of rolling your can out to the curb.....

We do it Antarctica style.....

Yeah, pull it on a fiberglass sled....It was a long walk though.

That's all for now, so until next time............

                      ......."Cooking on Ice"

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