Mar 21, 2000

Meteor Balloon Movies, recorded April 11, 1999

Meteor Balloon Movies

Recorded April 11, 1999

These movies were recorded during the April 11 launch and subsequent flight of the NASA/MSFC Meteor Balloon. A replay of the entire 2 hour flight, as recorded by the on-board video camera, may be viewed here. However, we recommend viewing the highlights listed below. All movies require Realvideo player version G2 or greater. Click to download the RealVideo Player from RealNetworks, Inc.

Video & Audio Highlights

Launch: Photographer Bob Moder made this 1 minute short of final preparations of the payload, inflation of the helium balloon, and release (6:47 p.m. CDT April 11, 1999). The first part of this movie shows Ed Myszka attaching one of the xerogel capture medium cells to the payload. Inflation of the balloon required nearly a dozen people to make sure the 10ft diameter balloon wasn't blown into the ground and damaged before release. The winds were still 10-15 mph, and gusty; our main concern was that the balloon not get blown into the tall tethering pole located nearby and seen just as the balloon is released.

Sunset: From the balloon's point of view at about 80,000 ft altitude (Approximately 7:25 p.m. CDT April 11) Part of the payload frame and tethers holding the payload tail are visible in the lower part of the frame. The curvature of the Earth seen in the frame is due to "fish-eye" lens distortion. The numbers showing in the picture do not give an accurate position and speed, the GPS sensor failed during ascent of the payload. The eerie gurgling noise is the very thin wind blowing through the payload frame and tethers. (56KB version)

Balloon Burst: Although a little of the fading glow from sunset is occasionally visible, the audio from this recording is the most startling thing about this movie. At about 12 seconds into the playback, the occasional "whoosh" of the wind is replaced by a constant roar - indicating the balloon has burst and the payload is plunging back through the stratosphere. As the air thickens, the balloon's parachute significantly slows the descent; allowing us to retrieve a yet-usable payload for another flight!

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