Data Downloaded via Parachute from a NASA Super-Pressure Balloon

Ellen L. Sirks, Richard Massey, Ajay S. Gill, Jason Anderson, Steven J. Benton, Anthony M. Brown, Paul Clark, Joshua English, Spencer W. Everett, Aurelien A. Fraisse, Hugo Franco, John W. Hartley, David Harvey, Bradley Holder, Andrew Hunter, Eric M. Huff, Andrew Hynous, Mathilde Jauzac, William C. Jones, Nikky JoyceDuncan Kennedy, David Lagattuta, Jason S.Y. Leung, Lun Li, Stephen Lishman, Thuy Vy T. Luu, Jacqueline E. McCleary, Johanna M. Nagy, C. Barth Netterfield, Emaad Paracha, Robert Purcaru, Susan F. Redmond, Jason D. Rhodes, Andrew Robertson, L. Javier Romualdez, Sarah Roth, Robert Salter, Jürgen Schmoll, Mohamed M. Shaaban, Roger Smith, Russell Smith, Sut Ieng Tam, Georgios N. Vassilakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In April 2023, the superBIT telescope was lifted to the Earth’s stratosphere by a helium-filled super-pressure balloon to acquire astronomical imaging from above (99.5% of) the Earth’s atmosphere. It was launched from New Zealand and then, for 40 days, circumnavigated the globe five times at a latitude 40 to 50 degrees south. Attached to the telescope were four “drs” (Data Recovery System) capsules containing 5 TB solid state data storage, plus a gnss receiver, Iridium transmitter, and parachute. Data from the telescope were copied to these, and two were dropped over Argentina. They drifted 61 km horizontally while they descended 32 km, but we predicted their descent vectors within 2.4 km: in this location, the discrepancy appears irreducible below ∼2 km because of high speed, gusty winds and local topography. The capsules then reported their own locations within a few metres. We recovered the capsules and successfully retrieved all of superBIT’s data despite the telescope itself being later destroyed on landing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number960
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


  • balloon instrumentation
  • data compression
  • data handling
  • large detector-systems performance
  • models and simulations


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