BLAST! Balloon-borne Telescope Launched In Antartica
- Antartica 12/26/2012 by Govert Schilling, SPACE.com contributo (Huffington Post)
A giant helium balloon is slowly drifting above Antarctica, about 22 miles (36 kilometers) up. Launched on Tuesday (Dec. 25) from the National Science Foundation's Long Duration Balloon (LDB) facility on Earth's southernmost continent, it carries a sensitive telescope that measures submillimeter light waves from stellar nurseries in our Milky Way.
"Christmas launch!" wrote officials with NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, which oversees the agency's balloon research program, in a Twitter post yesterday. "BLAST launched today from McMurdo Station, Antarctica."
This is the fifth and final mission for BLAST, short for the Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope, and mission designers hope it will reveal why so few stars are born in our galaxy.