While being here and having fun is a realisation of my life long dream, the main reason Halley Station exists is to do some Very Important Science.
One of the projects that’s currently running at Halley is the Barrel project. BARREL is a very fancy acronym for Balloon Array for Radiation-belt Relativistic Electron Losses, which is a project funded by NASA and which is running out of Halley VI and also the South African Antarctic Station SANAE IV.
The idea of the project is to launch 20 helium filled balloons, each carrying a 20kg payload to an altitude of about 30-35km. Each payload essentially consists of an x-ray radiation sensor and a magnetometer as scientific instruments, solar panels and an onboard battery for power, a bunch of sensors to monitor the operation of the payload, a GPS receiver to track the position and altitude of the balloon and an Iridium modem to transmit all data back to the scientists.
preparing the payload
filling the balloon
We all get to participate in launching these balloons and, while it’s all very serious and is done as part of Very Important Science, it’s also great fun. And when the weather plays ball, it’s also a great photo opportunity.
Christoph filling the balloon
Stewie and Jimmi about to release the balloon
And if all this was not enough fun, one of my pictures from the balloon launch was featured on the NASA website to illustrate an article about the project!
And away she goes!