From Earth, it looks like a second moon floating in the sky, but make no mistake: it’s a search balloon the size of a football field. More recently, it passed over Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, where it caused a lot of talk in some of the communities that flew over it.
The XL-Calibur, as it is called, was launched from Kiruna, Sweden, and is the result of the work of American, Japanese and Swedish scientists. Its purpose is to measure X-rays emitted by black holes and neutron stars.
Its flights spanned over 6 days, 7 hours and 45 minutes, and were made possible by a collaboration between NASA, Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden.
The XL-Calibur telescope and parachute, shown here, landed near Délınę, NWT on Monday, about 20 miles from where the blimp ended.
On the Twitter account dedicated to the ball, photos taken by fans in Norway and Iceland as well as Arviat, Iqaluit and Nunavut were posted. According to Richard Bose, an engineering researcher at WUSTLXL-Calibur also passed over Yellowknife before landing about 80 kilometers from the community of Délınę on Monday.
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He claims that NASA made the decision to end the flight, a process that involves opening a hole in the balloon so that it falls from a height of approximately 40,000 meters to a height of 15,240 meters. After that, the airship and the telescope that was carrying it were separated, and the latter fell to the ground using a parachute.
He just dodged some trees and didn’t fall into a lake, which was our biggest fear., says Richard Bose, part of the team that built the telescope. He adds that water can damage the rare and expensive mirrors inside the device.
The polythene balloon landed approximately 20 kilometers from the payload, and a team was dispatched to retrieve the three segments, NASA communications officer Jeremy Eggers says.
Jeremy Eggers explains that before the flight ends, NASA’s Science Balloon team conducts a survey to ensure public safety, minimize environmental impacts, and ensure they can salvage as much material as possible.
NASA is studying the environmental impacts on all science balloon missions and taking steps to mitigate themHe wrote in an email, adding that the organization worked with Canadian officials to coordinate the XL-Calibur flight site and landing site.
The red line in this map shows the XL-Calibur flight path from Sweden, over Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and northern Canada.
Photo: Columbia Science Balloon Facility
Jeremy Eggers specifies that the balloon’s action was directed primarily toward a black hole called Cygnus X1. This one is of particular interest to scientists, as it absorbs gas from a nearby star.
Black holes are very mysterious objects, and of course you can’t tell what’s going on inside them, since no light escapes from them. , says Jeremy Eggers. He adds, however, that scientists can study phenomena that occur near these black holes, like something very strong which generates X-rays near Cygnus X1.
In the spirit of exploring and understanding what is happening in our world, this is part of the fundamental research that we are fortunate to be able to fund.
With information from Lenny Lambernck
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