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MINIature Spectrometer-North

In January 2005, we are launching two balloon payloads from Churchill, Manitoba. Each 60 lb payload will be carried to an altitude of 120,000 feet on a 300,000 cubic foot balloon. Four similar payloads will be simultaneously launched by our collaborators at U. C. Berkeley from the South African Antarctic Station (SANAE). These flights will provide us with the first conjugate measurements of relativistic electron precipitation from a balloon. Stay tuned for progress on the campaign! (Right: Launch of MINIS test balloon at McMurdo Station, Antarctica)

The MINIS project is an effort to understand the size, frequency and mechanisms of relativistic electron precipitation from the magnetosphere into the ionosphere. It is the next step in an ongoing effort. The MINIS approach differs in emphasis and method from its predecessor experiment (MAXIS). A different instrument package, which includes electric and magnetic field sensors, will look for electromagnetic indications of magnetospheric waves which might be responsible for scattering relativistic electron out of their repetitive motions in the magnetosphere and down into Earth's atmosphere. The MINIS campaign will employ 4 balloons with staggered launches in order to extend the longitudinal range over which relativistic electron precipitation is observed. These balloons will be hand-launched by graduate students from the South African Antarctic station, SANAE, in January 2005. University of Washington is contributing electric field instrument components (Bob Holzworth and Michael Kokorowski) and x-ray spectrometers (Michael McCarthy and Erin Lay) to the balloon payloads. Michael Kokorowski will also travel to SANAE to launch the balloons.

See balloon trajectory maps and data here.

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Project Status Reports

January 24, 2005 - Final SANAE and Churchill Balloons launched

Churchill's final balloon was released at approximately 01:40 UTC. The balloon reached float as predicted in two hours, and moved a little slower than the first balloon. The balloon continued easterly until we terminated the flight off the eastern coast of Iceland. The balloon transmitted data until landing in the ocean.

SANAE launched their third and fourth balloons this week.

Congratulations to both SANAE and the Churchill team for the successful launch of SIX balloons in two weeks!

January 21, 2005 - First Churchill Balloon Launched

At approximately 08:54 UTC, our first Churchill balloon was released. The payload reached float in a little over two hours after launch, and ended up floating over Greenland when we cut it down. It continued to send us data from atop the Greenland Ice Cap until the batteries died.

January 19, 2005 - Second SANAE Balloon Launched

At approximately 13:00 UTC the second SANAE balloon was launched. The payload reached float in just over two hours. Great data is beginning to come in. Congratulations to the hard working people down in Antarctica for a successful launch.

January 17, 2005 - First SANAE Balloon Launched

The SANAE balloon launched at approximately 14:00 UTC. The payload reached altitude in just over one hour. After that, the balloon proceeded to come back down over the course of several hours. The mechanism that brought the balloon down is still unknown.

January 14, 2005 - First Churchill Flight Delayed

Our first flight, which was set to occur on January 8th has been delayed due to poor weather in both Antarctica and here in Churchill. We are anticipating a launch on January 17th, provided the weather in both poles is flight worthy. We have completed one payload, and are busy finishing our second payload while we wait out the blizzard that has moved in at both Churchill and SANAE.

January 3, 2005 - Arrival in Churchill

Members from our team are just arriving at the Churchill Northern Studies Center. Our southern hemisphere collaborators arrived at SANAE last week and are busily preparing for a January 8th launch.

Minis South Log, written by Mike Kokorowski. Read about the Antarctica Mission!

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