All posts by Mark

From PoGOLite to PoGO+

As avid readers of this blog, you no doubt remember PoGOLite - a balloon-borne hard X-ray polarisation mission which is part of the Swedish National Space Board national programme for balloon and sounding rocket research at the Esrange Space Centre. After a number of frustrating set-backs (broken balloons, bad weather, ...), the Crab was successfully observed in July 2013 - providing the first measurement of the polarisation of emissions in the 20 - 120 keV energy band. Technical difficulties encountered during the flight meant that the polarisation parameters could only … Continue Reading ››

PoGOLite landed!

After a pioneering circumpolar journey lasting almost 14 days, the PoGOLite flight ended on the Siberian tundra. The gondola was cut from the balloon in the early hours of 26th July and touched down by parachute approximately 1 hour later. The gondola landed near, but luckily not in, a lake (this seems to be a recurring theme for us...). The landing site was close to the Siberian city of Norilsk which houses a large nickel and copper mine, as well as good infrastructure for a helicopter-based recovery of the gondola. [caption … Continue Reading ››

Bad news for PoGOLite once again.

PoGOLite launch activities have been terminated at Esrange. We have been waiting to launch since 1st July, but weather conditions have not been good enough. This is very unusual. The low pressure regions which have been oscillating back-and-forth over Esrange have lead to wind conditions which are incompatible with launching a million cubic metre volume balloon. Now, at the end of July, the stratospheric winds are no longer stable enough to support a flight Eastwards towards Canada and beyond.

A second chance for PoGOLite and some news from PAMELA

Approximately one year ago, the PoGOLite team deployed to the Esrange Space Centre located outside of Kiruna in Northern Sweden. The result of that ill-fated flight attempt is well known to readers of this blog. Time flies (which is more than can be said for our balloon) and the last year has passed quickly. Now we find ourselves back at Esrange with some 6 weeks until PoGOLite is due to be airborne once more. It is a little bizarre to be commuting back-and-forth to 67 degrees N. Just as summer … Continue Reading ››

PoGOLite flight cut short

The PoGOLite flight did not turn out as we had hoped. A few hours after the spectacular launch at 2 AM on Thursday 7th July it became clear that the balloon's altitude was lower than expected. It was soon after determined that the balloon was in fact leaking and that the altitude had started to steadily decrease. Since the balloon was approaching a mountainous region it was decided to terminate the flight - a 5 day flight to Canada was no longer an option. We were, of course, extremely disappointed and frustrated. … Continue Reading ››

PoGOLite launched!

At 01:57 on Thursday 7th July 2011, PoGOLite was successfully launched from Esrange. It was a beautiful sight. About an hour after the launch we are now at an altitude of 20000 metres and climbing steadily. We have activated the polarimeter and all is OK. So far, so good... We are now working through our in-flight check-lists and will soon start to position the gondola for first observations of the Crab.
PoGOLite is launched!
 

Countdown cancelled!

Well, I spoke too soon... A weather front descended over Esrange and the countdown was cancelled due to risk for rain showers. Disappointing, but not unusual for balloon launches where the weather must be perfect. We'll have another weather briefing tomorrow and hopefully move to another countdown soon after.  

The countdown approaches…

POGOLite is almost ready for launch! As you can see from the photograph, the polarimeter, which once filled our lab at AlbaNova, is now dwarfed by the protective gondola and solar cell arrays. The picture was taken just before Midsummer, during a launch rehearsal. This provided us with a realistic environment to tune-up our pre-flight checklists and confirm that we can operate the polarimeter, pointing system and our satellite communication systems together with the other balloon systems.
PoGOLite hanging on the Hercules launch vehicle
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