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1 W. Vernon Jones Senior Scientist for Suborbital Research Astrophysics Division, DH000 Science Mission Directorate NASA Headquarters August 18, 2014 “Overview.

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Presentation on theme: "1 W. Vernon Jones Senior Scientist for Suborbital Research Astrophysics Division, DH000 Science Mission Directorate NASA Headquarters August 18, 2014 “Overview."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 W. Vernon Jones Senior Scientist for Suborbital Research Astrophysics Division, DH000 Science Mission Directorate NASA Headquarters August 18, 2014 “Overview of the NASA Suborbital Program” Chicago, IL 17 – 21 August th HEAD Meeting

2 2 NASA’s Suborbital Program NASA’s Suborbital Program, comprised of the Sounding Rocket and Balloon Projects, is managed within the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) under the tutelage of the Senior Suborbital Program Executive. –The Heliophysics Division provides oversight of Sounding Rockets. –The Astrophysics Division provides oversight of Balloons. Flight Operations are managed through support contracts by a “Program” Office for each “Project” at the NASA/GSFC Wallops Flight Facility (WFF). –Sounding rocket flights are conducted by the NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract (NSROC). –Balloon flights are conducted by the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF).

3 3 Merit of the Suborbital Program Suborbital Projects offer flight opportunities for unique science investigations that require, or can be done in, near-space. –They offer quick access to space at much less cost than orbital missions. They play important roles in migrating bench top technologies to space flight readiness levels. They provide students with hands-on hardware training crucial for developing the next generation of scientists and engineers. –The time to go from concept, to detector, to flight, and data analysis is consistent with pursuit of a graduate degree. They are the primary engine for generating new scientists with the hardware and project management skills needed to lead new space missions.

4 4 Antarctica: Center Piece of NASA Ballooning NASA-NSF/PLR Long-Duration Ballooning (LDB) provides: – NASA’s lowest cost access to space (>= stratosphere). – Spacecraft-scale payloads ( kg science instruments). – Recoverable/Re-usable payloads increase exposure at low cost. The Balloon Program has focused on expanding the highly successful LDB flights OVER / AROUND Antarctica. – Flight durations of up to 4-8 weeks. – Flight support to 3 payload every year. Frontier Astrophysics on Super-Pressure Balloons (SPB) will justify Ultra-Long Duration Balloon (ULDB) flights FROM Antarctica In the coming decade. – ULDB flights from Antarctica would yield long exposures: 60 days now; 100 days soon. NASA is working with NSF/PLR to enable flights to leave Antarctica for possible recovery in South America, New Zealand, Australia, etc. – Initial ULDB capability does not include payload recovery. 42-day CREAM flight Dec - Jan day SPB flight Dec 09- Feb day SperTIGER Flight Dec - Feb 2013

5 5 History of Antarctic Balloon Flights  44 Antarctic Long-Duration Balloon (LDB) Flights Since 1991: 31 single circumpolar flights with durations of days. 6 double circumpolar flights with durations of days. 5 triple circumpolar flights with durations of 35 – 55 days. 2 super-pressure balloon (SPB) test flights: 54 days; 22 days.  Recent History and Near-Term Plan for Antarctic LDB Flights: FY 2013 Campaign ( Season) was most successful ever. –Super-Trans Iron Galactic Element Recorder (Super-TIGER). –Balloon Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST). –E and B EXperiment (EBEX). FY 2014 Campaign ( Season) was Cancelled due to U. S. Government Shutdown October 1-16, 2013 ! FY 2015 Campaign Candidates ( Season): PIC 01/23/14 – COmpton Spectroscopic Imager (COSI) on Super Pressure Balloon (SPB). – Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA). –A Large Angular Scale Millimeter-wave Polarimeter (SPIDER). FY 2016 Campaign Candidates ( Season) Undetermined. –Boron And Carbon Cosmic-rays in the Upper Stratosphere (BACCUS) was brought back from Christchurch, NZ, along with Spider and SPB.

6 6 FY-13 Antarctic Campaign: Season Three balloon payloads launched in Dec collectively flew 96 days! Super-TIGER: 55+ Days BLAST-Pol: 16+ Days EBEX: 25+ Days BLAST EBEX

7 7 SuperTIGER Exceeded SPB Flight Record SPB Test 54 days of flight: Balloon remained pressurized- no apparent gas loss. It could have flown indefinitely SuperTIGER 55 days of flight: Vented Zero-Pressure balloon in equilibrium with the atmosphere. The altitude changed with air temperature/pressure.

8 8 8 Scientific Research Balloons: How Big?

9 9 Long Duration Balloon (LDB) flights employing conventional, zero-pressure balloons have a proven history of scientific discovery, with many cited achievements. - Most high priority projects are proposing multiple LDB missions. Super-pressure balloons are major technological advance. - They offer an order of magnitude increase in flight capability. - They enable Ultra Long Duration Balloon (ULDB) flights ( days). - They open areas of exploration closed to zero-pressure balloons, e.g., LDB flights in non-polar-regions. Costs to convert most LDB payloads for ULDB flights are modest. - LDB and ULDB together form a science opportunity continuum. - They offer significant science at fraction of the cost of a space mission. - ULDB missions may be acceptable alternative to some Small Explorer (SMEX) missions.. Balloon payloads have been solicited as Missions of Opportunity in Explorer AO’s. - Two balloon missions (ANITA, GUSSTO) selected for Phase A studies, but neither was down-selected for flight. Evolution to Super Pressure Ballooning

10 10 Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) “ First New Balloon Design in more than 60 Years ” Schematic / Statistics Volume = 420,150 m 3 ( MCF) Diameter = m Height = m Number of gores = 230 Gore length stressed = m Gore width stressed = m Film thickness 38 microns (1.5 mil) Pumpkin Shape H/D = Photograph of 7 MCF SPB at float Altitude: ~33.87 km (~111,100 ft) 54-day test flight 12/28/08 – 2/20/09 22-day flight of 14.8 MCF with 4000 lb payload during January 2011

11 11 Sounding Rocket Program Overview The NASA Sounding Rocket Program supports an on-going flight manifest of approximately flights per year. The sounding rocket program operates in a “higher risk / lower consequence” environment that enables low cost access to space for scientific research, instrument development, and training. Customers include Heliophysics, Astrophysics, and other NASA and non-NASA customers. Stable of launch vehicles based on surplus & commercial rocket motors Payloads weights up to 2000 lbs. World-wide operations conducted at fixed and temporary launch sites. SRP Subsystems Scientific Instrument

12 12 World-wide Launch Operations Because many scientific investigations rely on in-situ measurements, launch operations must be conducted from sites around the world. Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska Esrange, Sweden Andoya Rocket Range, Nroway Wallops Flight Facility, USA

13 13 * The Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment (CIBER) from Caltech was first flown from White Sands Missile Range on February 25, * CIBER’s high sensitivity observations in a short sounding rocket flight eliminated the atmospheric airglow emission that makes absolute spectroscopy and high-fidelity degree-scale imaging virtually impossible from a ground based or balloon-borne platform. * The complex Attitude Control System (ACS) mission profile required pointing at seven different targets! Example Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Payload

14 14 Thank You !

15 15 Key Events in a Balloon Launch Sequence


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