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Science Balloons on Parade

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You might see some of
your favorite characters bobbing through the streets of New York City during
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but did you know that NASA’s got some balloons
of our own? Early December in Antarctica, we’re planning to launch some
behemoth balloons carrying science experiments and instruments to help unravel
mysteries of our universe. 

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Like the parade
balloons, these scientific balloons are filled with helium. But the science
balloon is designed to soar above 130,000 feet, past the clouding views of our
atmosphere. They can stay in the air from 2 hours to 100 days, depending on the
balloon type and how heavy the science payload is (up to 6000 lbs). A typical,
fully-inflated scientific balloon can be 460 ft in diameter and 396 ft in
height, made of acres of sandwich bag-looking film. That’s MUCH larger than
some parade balloons, and probably a pain to bring down 6th Avenue.

Like the parade
balloons, these scientific balloons are filled with helium. But the science
balloon is designed to soar above 130,000 feet, past the clouding views of our
atmosphere. 

So why launch these balloons in Antarctica? Winter in the
South Pole means 24 hours of non-stop sunlight, which is great for studying our
sun. Being at the poles, which has a weaker magnetic field than the rest of our
planet, also means we can capture and study cosmic ray particles that would be
too scattered by the Earth’s magnetic field elsewhere. Depending on the kind of
science we’d like to do, we also launch balloons from places all over the
world
.

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These balloons are great, inexpensive test-beds for
scientific instruments that could one day end up on a space-bound mission.
NASA’s NuSTAR mission started out as a
balloon experiment before it was refined and launched into space to study black
holes and other supernova remnants. Learn more about our balloons,
and see where these balloons are going using our tracker.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Parade Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brian Ferguson

Source: You’ll find lots of information about the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Also we have facts about the space station, ISS, SpaceX launch, space program, and outerspace. NASA

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Science Balloons on Parade

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