NASA Science Balloon Packed With Multi-Million Dollar Equipment Crashes in Australian Outback
April 29, 2010
(ChattahBox) – In dramatic video released by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), a giant 400-foot (121-meter) NASA balloon, loaded with a telescope painstakingly built to scan the sky at wavelengths invisible to the human eye crashed in the Australian outback Thursday. Dramatic footage of the incident showed the balloon’s large undercarriage coming loose from its moorings, smashing through a fence and knocking a four-wheel-drive car on its side before coming to rest. A freak gust of wind is believed to have caused the accident. The unmanned research balloon was built by NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas and expected to haul its two-telescope payload up to an altitude of about 120,000 feet or about 23 miles. The balloon was carrying the Nuclear Compton Telescope (NCT), a gamma-ray telescope built at the University of California, Berkeley, California to study astrophysical sources in space. Scientists last week completed a similar balloon flight to measure X-rays and gamma rays sent out by various stars and galaxies from deep in the Earth’s atmosphere.