Tuesday, December 14, 2010

28.5 Hours Into First Flight of 2010

The payload we launched yesterday is currently at:

75.5433 South Latitude
172.4821 East Longitude
108,827 Feet Altitude

Here are some maps of where our payload is!
Image from CSBF.

Image from CSBF and Google Earth.

Image from CSBF and Google Earth.

Ross Island.
The marker represents where LDB is, from where we launched the payload.
Image from CSBF and Google Earth.

Right now, as you can see, our payload is directly over the Ross Sea.  We'd really like our payload to go over the white snow/ice of the continent, as opposed to over water.  The reason is that the snow/ice has a much greater albedo than the water, (i.e. snow/ice reflects a great deal more sunlight than the water back up at the sky).  The more sunlight that is reflected by the surface of the earth/snow/water up at our payload, the hotter it will become.  Just as when you stand in the sun you feel warmer than when you stand in the shade (even though the air temperature is the same), so too our payload "feels" warmer when it has more light hitting it.

Our solar panels can be as hot as 100C or as cool as 0C.  The temperature of a panel is mainly determined by how much radiation it receives from the sun directly, but can also be affected by how much radiation it receives from below and from the payload itself.  At any given moment, the solar panel facing the sun can be at an extremely hot temperature while the panel facing away from the sun can be at an extremely low temperature.  Last year, some of our solar panels failed due to getting too hot and from going through too many hot/cold cycles as the payload rotated.

Thus, the main objective in the current BARREL campaign is to verify that the new solar panels we are using will be functional in the whole range of temperatures they experience.  We mainly want to see that they survive the hottest temperatures possible, which is why we would really like our payload to float over the continent, so it experiences a greater dose of reflected sunlight radiation.

So here's to hoping that the payload begins to travel to the west!

Brett
2010-12-15 3:14pm (NZDT)

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