ISRO to launch 10 balloon flights to conduct high-altitude experiments

ISRO to launch 10 balloon flights to conduct high-altitude experiments

Hyderabad: Ten balloon flights will be conducted from Hyderabad for scientific purposes from November 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023 under the Department of Atomic Energy and ISRO, informed B. Suneel Kumar, Chief Scientist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Hyderabad. The first hot air balloon flight is scheduled around the second week of November 2022.

The hydrogen-filled balloons carrying scientific instruments will be launched from the TIFR Balloon Facility, Hyderabad. The balloons are made of thin plastic films (polyethylene), with a diameter ranging from 50 meters to 85 meters and will be launched between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

The balloons, which will carry scientific instruments for high-altitude research, are expected to reach heights of between 30 km and 42 km depending on the experiments undertaken. The instruments will be held at these heights for periods ranging from a few hours to 10 hours and then released from the balloon.

Once released, the instruments will descend to the ground on large, colorful parachutes. During the ascent and on the ceiling, the balloons will drift in the prevailing winds and therefore the instruments may land at points as far away as about 200 to 350 km from Hyderabad. The balloon drifts will be on the Visakhapatnam-Hyderabad-Sholapur line, in the regions of Andhra Pradesh, North Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Mr. Suneel appealed to the people that those who find the parachute and instruments are requested not to remove them from his landing place and to telephone or telegram to the address which will be given on the different packages. They are also asked to contact the nearest police station, post office and district authorities about the find. Instruments are kept inside wooden cages or large aluminum frames/containers for added security.

As for the instruments, Suneel said they are extremely sensitive and valuable scientific data will be lost if tampered with. “There may be high voltages on some of the instruments which will be dangerous but only if the instruments are open. Otherwise they are safe and harmless,” he added.