Balloon sinks under sea
Wanaka’s Nasa balloon has sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean after a leak forced a controlled sea landing on May 6.
It managed 12 days afloat in the stratosphere collecting flight data for the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility and images of cosmic ray particles for astrophysicists.
It is now in a secret subterranean world about 321km south of Easter Island.
The Pacific Ocean is the biggest and deepest of Earth’s oceans, covering 165.25 million square kilometres, at an average depth of 4280 metres.
More than 90 percent of the Pacific sea bed has yet to be explored.
Despite carrying state of the art scientific equipment, no images of the balloon’s splash down and descent can be obtained.
Scientists downloaded 60GB of data but communications from the balloon and payload stopped on impact with the ocean.
The uninsured balloon and payload is worth several million dollars and cannot be recovered.
Communications spokesman Jeremy Eggers could not provide the cost of lost equipment.
But he said the possibility of loss had been accepted before the operation launched.
The 2377kg stadium-sized balloon was expected to have sunk rapidly.
The Nasa balloon was inflated and launched at Wanaka Airport on April 25.