Poppy launched from Wanaka
Ahumble paper Anzac poppy has started a journey around the world under a $1.6 million super pressure balloon, tucked into equipment that sends science data back to earth.
The poppy is a symbol of New Zealand’s national day of remembrance in New Zealand and Australia and was attached before the Anzac Day launch at Wanaka Airport, on April 25.
Nasa communications spokesman Jeremy Eggers said the poppy was tucked next to the balloon’s iridium, used to uplink or downlink data from the payload.
The mission is designed to run 100 or more days, floating at 110,000 feet (33.5 kilometres) over the globe in the southern hemisphere’s mid-latitude band.
Nasa balloon programme chief Debbie Fairbrother was delighted with the team’s third successful launch in as many years.
‘‘I’m very proud of the team that delivered us to this point and I’m hopeful that third time’s the charm for realising 100 days of flight,’’ she said.
The Nasa team want to break a 54-day flight record for a super pressure balloon.
The previous two flights from Wanaka ended early.
The main objective is to validate the balloon technology, but it is carrying a cosmic ray telescope as a science ‘‘mission of opportunity’’ for the International Extreme Universe Space Observatory.
The project’s lead scientist, Professor Angela Olinto, said the telescope was searching for cosmic particles.
‘‘The origin of these particles is a great mystery that our pioneering mission will help to solve. Do they come from massive black holes at the centre of galaxies? Tiny, fast-spinning pulsars? Or somewhere else?’’
Deputy principal investigator Lawrence Wiencke said the international science team was very excited to see the cosmic ray fluorescence detector lifted to suborbital space.
‘‘This balloon will give us a great view, and we are hoping for a record flight. We would especially like to thank the Nasa and Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility teams for their patience, hard work, and extensive expertise that made this launch successful.’’
The balloon may be visible from the ground at sunrise and sunset, in the southern hemisphere’s mid-latitudes, such as Argentina and South Africa.