Sun  ID: 12522

NASA-funded Balloon Recovered From Antarctica

For 12 days in January 2016, a football-field-sized balloon with a telescope hanging beneath it floated 24 miles above the Antarctic continent, riding the spiraling polar vortex. On Jan. 31, 2016, scientists sent the pre-planned command to cut the balloon – and the telescope parachuted to the ground in the Queen Maud region of Antarctica.

The telescope sat on the ice for an entire year.

The scientists did quickly recover the data vaults from the NASA-funded mission, called GRIPS, which is short for Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar flares. But due to incoming winter weather – summer only runs October through February in Antarctica – they had to leave the remaining instruments on the ice and schedule a recovery effort for the following year. Finally, in January 2017, it was warm and safe enough to recover the instruments.

For more information visit the feature.

For More Information

NASA’s GRIPS Balloon Arrives in Antarctica

NASA Flickr album: GRIPS Eyes the Sun During Antarctic Summer

More information on NASA’s scientific balloon program


Hazel Bain (University of California at Berkeley)
Albert Shih (NASA/GSFC)
Nicole Duncan (University of California at Berkeley)
Pascal Saint-Hilaire (University of California at Berkeley)

Joy Ng (USRA)

Kathalina Tran (KBRwyle)

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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