SuperTIGER-2 2018 Flight Payload Recovery and Preliminary Instrument Assessment
July 22, 2019
The SuperTIGER (Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) experiment was launched for the second time from the Long Duration Balloon (LDB) site near McMurdo Station, Antarctica on December 20, 2018 at 1:36 AM NZDT. The balloon reached a peak altitude of ∼79,300 ft before it began to descend, and the flight had to be terminated after just over six hours aloft. The payload landed at 8:17 AM NZDT approximately 150 miles from McMurdo Station at 75.80 S and 161.68 E. Satellite imagery of the site revealed that it was in a crevasse field, but a Twin Otter reconnaissance flight showed none in the immediate vicinity. A subsequent site survey by a team flown in by helicopter with ground penetrating radar was able to flag a safe zone including helicopter landing sites. The SuperTIGER-2 payload was recovered in two days with two Bell 212 helicopters followed by one day with a Basler, which involved transferring the payload to a safe fixed wing landing site roughly two miles away in three helicopter sling loads. After return to the LDB site the instrument modules were reassembled, rewired and tested prior to their being shipped north. The instrument was found to be in overall good condition, with all testable electronics channels working, and minimal mechanical damage. SuperTIGER-2 could be refurbished to fly again as early as this next Antarctic season.
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