The World of Scientific Ballooning
A. Very. Pleasant good evening to you wherever you are my name is Brian white I am from the JPL's education, and communications, Directorate, welcome. To the von Karman lecture. Series in, 1783. The. First crewed hot-air, balloon took flight in Paris, crowds. Came from miles around to view the spectacle, including, a few signatories, of the Declaration, of Independence as, the, balloon lifted higher a spectator, asked the inventor and American founding father Benjamin, Franklin. What. This new invention. Would. Be used for Franklin. Replied what. Is the use of a newborn baby, days. Later and a letter to a colleague in a more serious tone he concluded, that ballooning, could pave the way to some discoveries, in natural philosophy which. At present we have no conception. How. Right he was, today's. Scientific, ballooning, is the last bastion, of guerrilla science providing. Well tested reliable, low-cost moderate-risk. Platform, that, helps prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers and. Instruments. Our. First speaker tonight, dr.. Jose sealless earned, his MS and his PhD in electrical engineering, at the Technical University of Madrid Spain is a Fulbright. Postdoctoral. Research, Award winner has, done study at the University of tort of erragadda in Rome Italy and at, the observatory of Paris in France he. Was the elbow subsystem. Lead the. Stratospheric. Terahertz, Observatory and part, of the Antarctic team deployed, in 2015. And 2016, for the integration, test, and flight, of this, NASA balloon mission he, has been a total of five months, on the ice during those two campaigns, and currently, he is a research, engineer at, JPL, working on the next generation of sub millimeter wave high spectral, resolution, cameras. For. Astrophysics, planetary, science and earth science. Finally. He is an instrument-rated, pilot and, volunteers, as president, of the LA chapter the Fulbright Association. Please, welcome. Dr., Silas. Thank. You everyone for being here tonight. I hope. I see less I'm a research engineer here at JPL I've been working here for eight ER so far actually I live in more of eight years eight. Years and a half, but. Half. Five. Old months, of that, time I'd spend, it here. On the ice working. On this crazy idea which was taking a large telescope put it on a giant balloon take, it all the way up to the stratosphere to. Look at the Stars so, when these guys had the public office asked me to give this talk I couldn't find a better way to do it than taking, with you taking. You with me on, a journey to, explore the universe from Turkey to the Stars so. I hoped you were warm, uncomfortable it's been actually week here in LA not, as cold as it was there when I was there so, I hope you do like this. This. Is my murder station and tareka just a few months before our team they, start off Eric Tara head of servitor e team sto, to are right there to mount this telescope, and. Here's, the nighttime, we didn't get to see this beautiful, picture because, it was daytime when I when we were there but. I want to point out a couple of things here first, of all of course this is the Milky Way but. What we see here is the past actually, the. Milky Way expands one hundred eighty thousand, light-years across the, two thousand light years old, but. The most amazing. Thing here, is that there are 100 to 400 billion stars, in our galaxy so you cannot imagine how many star, how many galaxies. There in the universe and just. Try to strap like that to the number of stars it will just blow your mind number, but. It's obvious that with that with so many stars the, Stars has to. Play. An important. Role in how. The, universe. Evolves every, scientific. Questions start, with every. Scientific mission, start with a question and we need to find answers to that question and that's. What sto, - I wanted. To do. Let's. Start with this molecular cloud it's a lot, of gas particle.
Dust But, a certain point collapses. Because of gravitational attraction and, then. All these particles, start hitting each other and the temperature rises, from kelvins. To millions of, degrees, Celsius and, because of the NSA gas the gas is gonna tend to expand, so. It has to be something that that. Cools down that cloud to make, that, collapse. Continue. In order to eventually form the start so. That happens. With. The two major coolants, of the interstellar medium and ionized. Carbon and atomic oxygen, so. Sto, to will, look at those emissions, to. Try to trace, this star form in Williams. Eventually. We, form, stars and then planets and, then the, star will die as for. Sample a supernova and all. That material is ejected back to the interstellar medium and. The cycle just gets, back to the beginning at, every, single point. Of this cycle we, have a emissions. In the, far. Infrared of, sub-meter waves, that, give us information and, on. What's going on we cannot see this in the optical spectrum because the clouds are back at those wavelength, at, these frequencies we can actually see. Through, different, clouds, that. Are on the on your line of sight and, see. Things that that, basically happened, in all in. All of them. These. Are the science, goal of sto - as. I said that our mind the lifecycle of interstellar, dust and provide, templates for star formation. So. Coming back to these four in the beginning this, is what we can see with our bare eye so, quiet, universe, quite. A sky we see our galaxy, in the center it's. Beautiful, right, nothing, not. Much going on it looks like it this is the visible. But. If we look at other frequency, range things. Are different now there are lot of things that we cannot see with our bare eye that are going on this is for example gamma rays and this, is the far infrared into, some millimeter wave spectrum, so, now you can see here a lot of. Gas. Clouds. Nebulas. That, totally are for ministers there a lot of process going on there it's, actually zoom in in, one region here this, is Orion this. Is a map, of Orion, at this. A millimeter wave range and you, can see all these emissions, which are different molecules which. Are actually life enabling molecules, to study in the universe at these frequencies give us an idea, where we're coming from and, when we're going, in. Fact NASA, Scobie this mission. Found. Out that 50% of the luminosity and 90%, of the photos immediately, since the deep burn are in the sub millimeter range so it's really important to study the universe in these frequency, ranges. But. How do we listen to the star well at the end it's like a radio so, you have this a typical radio. Saying. That you would use to tune your favorite radio station, working. At around 100 megahertz, so. When we want to tune a carbon, oxygen nitrogen. We. Do the same it's pretty much the same concept is that the frequency is like 10,000, times Haggar. Which. Means that.
The Circuit is that you have to build, to. Build this radio actually now at this frequency are. So small that actually fit in a piece of your hair they are micro sized so it's really challenging to design this technology, to, build a radio, which. We call now radio telescope, to. Tune carbon. Nitrogen or, other molecules. So. That's what, we wanted to do. So. Four. Or five years ago or four or five years before the mission started, or the, we went to Antarctica actually, this. Is the concept this is the concept of the mission so we have a telescope it was a 0.8, meter telescope, the. Signals, of course are faint, so we need large apertures, you. Put everything you have there actually the receivers there on the back you put everything in the gondola that will hold to the volume you. Have certain. Electronics. And computers here Sanjay. Communications. Antennas GPS, of, course elevations, NASA, mood control Laura will talk more about that on her talk and. Four. Years later four five years later here we are still, two launch day in Antarctica, December. 2016. And, now. You have this beautiful concept. So. Reality, and. These are radio telescope but I like to call it actually. A time machine because I said that when we're looking at the start we're looking at the path so so. I don't know if you really, already a telescope or a time machine I think it's a very much in, launch. Configuration. So, we have a huge helium balloon 40 million cubic feet. Around. 140, meter diameter at float you don't see him you don't see it fully inflated here because. Because. It's just actually actually. Gets fully inflated when is our fluid, altitude at 130,000. Feet this. Is a cable that connects with the payload that you see here which is actually, this is 22 feet tall and the. Launch vehicle. And. Let's. Go flying. So. They're going to release the balloon the. Second. The, balloon is gonna line up there, on, top of the track. The. Track is going to back off and police, there alone without. The payload, of course, crossing into the, into. The launch vehicle. In. A second. Okay. Go, away. There. You go. So. This actually is one of the most critical particle we have to go all the way through the atmosphere through. All these thermal variation until. We get up to to the stratosphere so, you have to really design all these components, very well so, they take all that temperature. Variation. During the climb. It's. Flying. It's. Not spinning. This. Is how it will look like from the gondola. Actually. Crazy. Right it's, really impressive. That's. Mount Erebus huge, volcano in the background. And. If, you remember this from November. Right. There's a very. Fancy. Looking control. Room that we have here at JPL and you have all these guys very happy with the inside landing on.
Mars. It. Was after landing everyone concentrated, here before. So, I'm tired guys pretty, much the same right so. This. Is Chris Walker the, principal investigator of the mission from University of Arizona or, the colleagues myself, after. Lunch we were happy and concentrated, here during the ascent and making sure that everything was working well, so again. Balloon, is just like doing science, like in the old days right it's not as fancy as the, flight, missions that is really cool to be there. So. One of the regions that we saw, with this mission was the Carina Nebula it's, beautiful it's one of the most active star-forming. Regions, Naru galaxy and I'm gonna let it here let, this here and I will come back to this later. This. Go, back in time a little bit so. This. Is not. The first volume mission of course the first scientific balloon and. None, of the missions that you can find online is the, first one actually. The first NASA a long mission or if one, of the first was this NASA echo it. When all the way up to space this volume was inspected in the space. 1500. Kilometers and it was a communications, relay actually, only some, almost. Ferret measurements. But. Again that's, not again, that's not either the first scientific mission we, go back to 1912, victor, has took. A ride on a balloon went all the way up to five point three kilometer, to measure variations. On radiation and, because of these experiments, in, 1936. He got the Nobel Prize in thesis for discovering the cosmic rays so. Balloons. Give you made, in science. Since. Then more. Than 10,000, million missions, and Counting in. Astrophysics. Earth planetary. Science most. Of them actually are in astrophysics, and I. Don't wanna go through the list but I want to point out that many of the holes are in the far infrared, gamma. Rays cause, x-rays. And this, is a reason for that and the, reason is there. Are most fear blogs the radiation at those frequency, wavelengths. So. You, really need to go to a space or. Go. Almost, to a space which, is for example why. You want to go up alone you could go to to, an airplane as well not in this frequency range but in this but, again it's not as clear, as it is no space for our. Specific project. Or mission the Semana, bit of wave spectrum. This, is how they cooperate, imagine your cell phone and going here to Atacama and now your cell phone, is. Trying to receive this. Ionized carbon and oxygen from start at. Four point two kilometers where those carbon and oxygen emissions, lines hurt there's no coverage so, we cannot see anything well let's. Go to an airplane this is how. The sky looks like with the Sofia and NASA Sofia airplane it's, getting better but still a lot of regions where you cannot really see much so. We go with a balloon things. Look, much better. So. That's. One reason why we want to use balloons, but. There are other reasons like the. Noisy demonstrations, caused we. Have seen that for our specific application, we, don't really want to go with a ground telescope. Because we cannot see anything. But. It's, not cheap either so. The course of Alma for example, it is more. Than 1 billion dollar it's, not cheap, we. Can go to space but. It's of course very expensive, you have to have, a very reliable Airy well test is reliable technology, very much it and not only very. Low raise things, have to be tested. And documented properly so. This mission Herschel Space Telescope, goes has some limited wave. Mission, far infrared it. Cost is around 1 billion dollars. We. Can go airborne with Sofia again is for, what we wanted to do is not the best but is be blueberry, data but. It's not cheap either because 100 million, per year more, or less. But. If we go with a balloon now. The course is between five and ten million dollar so. That means that you can test new technologies, get, that level of maturity they, must read those technologies, in flight and, that. Way you can pave, the future for future space missions. And. Then you can also learn and recover the the. Payload. Do updates, and fly again, it's actually a perfect, way to. Do this technology demonstration, at the same time that you get great science. But. The no degree that we use in balloons it, can be used for many other space missions in the future as we are saying it.
Paves The way for future space missions so for this specific. Technology, that we were using an sto tool it can be used for water mapping ocean walls it, could be used for water and thermal map Eirik comets, it. Could be used for monitoring Earth's health. For. Somebody's ass so also on map and I was taken with our mission, that is currently flying. We. Can do Atmospheric. Experiments, as well like are going range weather imaging or understand, clouds humidity. So. A lot of applications, well okay. For, years we, have all these crazy small. Series that we have to develop and put together and. We. Did it this. Is in Texas, when we put, all this together the first time and this old a tin and I imagine that you bill at 10,000 pieces possible and. I tell you you need to take it apart and rebuild it in just a couple of hours you will tell me why you're crazy we're not going to do that well. That what we did we took the telescope apart put it in boxes and send, it to Ontario. So. Here we go everyone. In the team the, others in LA. We. Fly from here to Sydney, Australia a, few. Hours there then Kreitzer New Zealand you have some training there, survival. Training you, get the cold weather gear there. Finally. You, take a military. An, Air Force aircraft to, go to McMurdo, Station Antarctica. This. Is the beginning of my trip and it's not that I thought, I was very, interesting for you, in. My luggage. But. What. You see here is actually a. Subsystem. Of the radio telescope it's very sensitive, for the list of static discharges, so. We kind of just put it in our boat for six. Months and aspect that is working we need to take it with us and make sure that it's transport in the correct way sand. It's like doing science like in the old days right so, I crossed when, I cross the wall with that actually. You. See there in the table you can see it afterwards, the, big piece there is one of the part over here that flew and would recover. After. I brought it back. This. Is myself were in the cold weather here in before. Boarding the flight and, it's not that I wanted just to take their clothes to I mean. Put on those clothes to take a photo in front of the, passenger. Terminal here, for Facebook which I really wanted okay. It's. Because we need to board the airplane like that just, in case that something happen you, you know you, maybe you can survive on the ice for I don't know a couple of hours. So. Here we go it this is the airplane. The. User for airplane. And. You fly like. Like. This stop working. Okay. So. Do you fly like cargo, so. You have, all the. The. Food, their parts, and everything you know all the scientists and all the. Person and their cargo but believe it or not is more comfortable than a commercial flight see how much room you have for your legs. Okay. So. Another. Reason why we want to go to Antarctica well. It's, one of the first photos I took from the airplane when we got there and you. See here is beautiful right but there's nothing so your, balloon, fails and falls the, worst thing that can happen is you make a hole on the ice not a big deal. But. The key point is that, the, Antarctic borders. Keep. This wind circulating, around the continent, so, when we launch the balloon the balloon goes. Around and around the continent, it doesn't go out and then you can just after your mission is complete you can recover the you can continue. Another. Problem well there's, no really a an, airport, so here you have this huge airplane. Landing on the ice is, this smooth as landing. And I ever. Seen. In an airplane is it was amazing, just really really soft. My. MARTA station. You. See looks. Like, like. A whole scientific, base but really really cool. The. Sea is there more. Interesting things this. Is Robert five bonus codes had that, he will enduring suspicion to the South Pole is still there, actually. You can go in there and you have even these food. Cans still there it smells not, really well but it's, very cool to feel like those, whole explorers, and that's, what balloon is in the end right you just go there and try to put the time balloon on a giant telescope in a balloon and feel like a Explorer, it's really really cool the. Beach is. Frozen. They. Tell you that they do there, is a crack and you fool you have ten minutes to get out I found.
A Crack I put my hand and tell anyone I think that I wouldn't make it more than one minute this is really really cool a. Galley. First. Station, a small, hospital. Don't. Expect to get hardly there something happened they. Need to medevac you and there are not many flight so there's you get really well tested before going there and ice. A lot of ice this is most beautiful eyes I ever seen. In my life it's. Just this turquoise. Blue just beautiful. And. Some. Challenges well this. Is malaria view this is the view from our office or our hangar we were when. We were building telescopes. Is. Active. Supervolcano, this. Actual, fumes from the volcano and, it's very close if these things get crazy I don't think that we can run or ski. Fast. Enough. This. Is the hunger it was we were not at my mother we were like 40 minutes away from a murder we have to take a transport every morning this, is the sea ice and. This, is important because we, have this very small devices that they are really sensitive there's. No ground connection, here. You. Basically have to be very very careful when you assemble, the telescope, back again because, any discharge and is worried right there so you have to be really careful on where all these protections, because. If you discharge on your equipment. You, know you kill it. Stormy. Days is the same photo a stormy days in two or three minutes do you get whiteout, so. You need to be careful when this happened because you, don't, pretend to be walking around when you don't see anything you don't want to fall into a crevasse. Not. A good idea, and. Another, important thing again we have to put together these 10,000, pieces passive, in, you know it takes four weeks so, don't forget anything, we have to take all the tools all the parts all the part that we might need if something goes wrong to fit wood whatever, it goes wrong their own place because. If. Something goes bad, you. Cannot call Amazon you, have to do it yourself so you remember this one Apollo 13 the. Issue of AC to filter when they have to make, the round filters to to. Fit in the square hole. And they, have to do it with whatever they have in the spacecraft so pretty much like. That there so whatever you have there would you need to use. Inside. The hangar the scientists, it in there, and. Top floor engineers. Working on the telescope here, a lot. Of parts again all these powerful this pass shall have to come back together in, four weeks, the. Receiver the silicon a metre telescope that you see here the solar panels, thousands, of cables here you really need to get. Inside and, connect. Cables, so, we're telemetry, to control the gondola and, the instrument on flight the, parachute, for the landing and. At some point, again. We. Think we made, it happen and that was back together one, piece pork. In but. We have a last problem, which. Is like you have a telescope right so what. You need to test a telescope, you need stars or planets right but it's daylight, so. How do we find or how do we really point to stars and also we have seen we have that we, cannot receive the signal that we want to see from the ground right okay. Well you, know have a start do, it yourselves. So. What we did is to create a transmitter, that you can see here in front of the telescope.
Transmitted A signal that somehow, reproduce. The signal, that we will see from a star. Transmitted. Here to this reflector, which was on top of a container far away and. Point. The telescope to that fake star and do, all the calibration. Focusing. Pointing. Adjustment. That we needed of. Course at the end you have to make sure that you're. Actually looking at your fake star so. You have to go there and cover the reflector and make sure the signal goes away please don't do this with a real star, you'll get burned. Okay. For I said, four years in four weeks, but. In 90 second, this. Is how, it looks like so. What, you're seeing is the telescope, just four on top of the receiver and, now advanced in the gondola they're. Going to. Put. On the boat on the computers. And communication, systems and then. We're going to start assembling. The solar panels and, when all that is done they, get outside and do all these, communication. Tests and. Transmission. Tests to make sure that the, instrument does interfere with the communications, and all that and of course that everything is working. After. That you, are ready to fly you bring it back, inside and you just wait until there's a day where the weather is good the winds are good to, go for launch. So, here you see we were doing some communication, tests back. Inside. Everyone. Happy getting ready for launch. As, you see everyone was so excited and doing things very fast. We. Were not that fast though. They. Put the landing. Pads on the bottom and, it's. Waiting for the, winds, to come down and. You go to the launch pad which is very fancy and it's just ice. Previous. One was real timed is it not obviously. And. Everyone. Was really really happy, teamwork thing works teamwork so. You, kind of really build this. Rebuild. This in four weeks if you don't really work well alone I. Wouldn't. Call them colleagues I think they are really really good friends we spend so much time together that we got really really close. Do. You have to do this very fast. As. I said it's different to a space mission where you have much more time you do this relatively.
Fast So you don't really need to trust each other all, these guys are amazing in what they do and, you have to really trust each other work well together. You're there, on the ice 24. Hours a day together and, you really need to work well also, balanced. And Laura will talk more about that it's a great way to bring. Students. Young, scientists. To. Basically bring them to the process of building a whole. Mission from end to end and pregnant. For. Future, space missions a lot. Of universities. And. Another. Centers working together, so. Again you cannot really do this alone there's a lot of people. Working on this and a lot of them that are not in the photo. So. Sto, to flew for 21, days it. Went around the continent twice and, when, the mission was completed well we just landed so. It's. Not fun our mission but is how it looks like. And. Then the market deploys. Now, start fooling this is from. From. Outside view you. Can see how massive the balloon, is compared, to the. Payload. That is their really. Really impressive. This. Is how it duplex on so, it's really space, is pretty much the space you can see how high. We're flying. 130,000. Feet, and. You can, land. Back on the ice. And. I know that you were wondering, if we do something else than other than working in Antarctica, well, this. Is New Year's Eve in Antarctica, ice token, starting Music Festival we, actually have like 20 bands playing that day and. It happened it. Was a coincidence that we ended our mission, just and New Year's you. Know it. Was not for us but you know we can say that they organized a party, for the team it. Was really cool by the way midnight, they. Liked all the time so. It. Was very very cool, to to. Be in New, Year's actually in the, big light all the time a few. Weeks later I think was two weeks we recovered the payload, this is how it look like so, you, see the solar panels are of course broken but the solar panels are cheap you can just buy, new ones um and. Put, them back together the. Gondola was intact this, is the. Force data, and this. Is how it looks like in the hangar back in the hangar so again it just looks like new everything. Was working. This. Part, who was one of the subsystem, that I took with me you can have a look afterwards, still. Working we recover from the eyes we, brought it back still working and the other one there is the new generation that we're trying. To fly in it. Because. That's. The advantage of the alone we can now update, with, new technology. With an a generation of technology and fly, again and try, new things actually. Because of the success of Sto - there's, another mission called gas - that will fly in 2021, and, we're working on other, concepts. To fly larger. Telescopes. More. Broadband coverage -. Tuned to different frequency lines so. So, this just again paves the way for future, missions. But. Yeah we're ready for another flight yeah. But I think after all those that, time in the eyes I think. The team. But. The. Mission is not accomplished, unless. You, don't get science and. This, is the science, with God. From. The sto - you. Can see here rotate. Those bags, or, space or carbon that, we saw I showed. You this photo before and. If. You see an optical image of there really on there there, is nothing here with sto - we. Saw carbons emission there so. Sto, - actually found out how young. Massive. Stars impact, the surrounding, cloud and that.
Maybe. Maybe. Regulate, how they start forming process, work, so. Really good science again it will be more in future flies but. We got an amazing, science, with this low budget value mission, so. I want to conclude. With. This paragraph that aggro'd and December, 15 from a mother station target so. Today we, got the first detection of carbon emitted by nearby ETA Carinae. 7500. Years ago that's. The time the signal takes to get to Earth from the Carina constellation. Carbon. Is basic to life and this carbon emissions, we are seeing today might, turn into life in several million years from now, likewise. Ourselves. Our, carbon, was probably part of a distant star-forming region, millions, of years ago so. Today as we look at the stars from the most remote part of our plane a planet. Using a large telescope on a giant balloon we. Dig into our paths to pry understand, our future, thank, you. Thank. You Jose, now. Our second speaker dr., Laura Jones Wilson earned her BS in aerospace engineering, at Virginia Tech in 2007. Went, on to study at Cornell University where, she obtained her MS and PhD in, aerospace engineering. Specializing. In dynamics, and controls, of, space systems, she joined JPL in 2012, as a guidance, engineer, for stable, a balloon. Based pointing, technology, demonstration, mission currently. She is a systems, engineer, on Europa, clipper responsible. For ensuring the solar arrays accommodate, the radar instrument please welcome, dr. Jones. Wilson. Hi. Thanks, for coming out tonight I'm really excited to be here so I'm Laura. And I, am going to be talking to you about how, the. Kind of other side the darks the dark arts of the ballooning missions which was the engineering side and how it's really a crucible, for not only the science as Jose was talking about but also the. The technology and the teaming. So. Jose. Went and gave a really good introduction about all the different science, you can do on here and some really cool apps aspects, of it so, as he mentioned one, of the reasons balloons are so interesting, as a platform is because they offer a lot of advantages. Over other opportunities, for science so. For example from a ground-based mission, you can actually have more tailored hardware you can pick your own particular. Instrument. Or mission and fly, that instead of maybe what's available on the ground already you also get really clear seeing you get lower wind speeds and larger coherence lengths higher up and you. Can actually access different, spectral bands so Jose was talking about all the different ones that get blocked by the atmosphere, in order to be able to see those you really have to go above the atmosphere and balloons give you that opportunity another. Thing you can do as compared, to orbital, systems for example it's a much lower cost so obviously Jose, I was talking about how that's a more. Frequent you can actually put up some more opportunities. With your instrument, and you, get to recover your hardware which isn't usually what you get to do with spacecraft and you can maybe even upgrade it and fly it again or over and over and get science, and, increasing, quantities as you go through the different life cycles. So. All, the different science we talked a little bit about astronomy and the astronomy that you can do from there's a lot of really cool things you can see black, holes dark matter cosmic. Rays even exoplanets. There's. Also some proposed to explorations, out there that are really cool some, of the work that there's being done right here at JPL is studying ways of measuring. Quakes. On Venus from balloons that you put around on, Venus itself so you don't have to sit on the ground at 800, Fahrenheit, and try, to take the measurements, you can actually try to make those measurements from higher up and get the measurements that way, on.
Earth We can actually do climate measurements, magnetic, field stratospheric. Chemistry, winds all of these other great things we can learn by actually being in that wind collar or that air column there and then. Solar science we can actually study how the solar, winds come out from, the Sun and interact with magnetic fields here at earth and all. The different cool interactions, you may get with that so, as. An engineer though this all science is great but what I hear as an engineer is there's. Technology, to be had here this, has needs for different parts of what engineers can do so. What can technology do on balloons there's a couple of different things so for example you. Can develop technology, for other worlds and so if you're going to for. Example do that remote sensing technique where you're listening to, the airwaves, and and. Trying to understand what the quakes are doing on, the seismic activity you, can do that on a balloon platform, here and if you're gonna send it to Venus you're gonna try it here on earth first so that's the technology we can start developing on, balloons another. Thing you can do is develop new concepts, for, for something so I know that a lot of the new missions that Jose pointed out are actually, trying out different detection, types and different detectors, qualifying. Them to, the, technology, on a balloon first and then making the case that it's got really good science and maybe you should go on a space. Mission. You. Can also test in, the upper atmosphere of Earth as an analog for other planets, so for example if, you wanted to test, different sensors. That are bound, for Mars you, want to make sure that the atmosphere, you're testing in is similar to Mars one, of the ways to do that is to go into our upper atmosphere, where it's very thin and less dense and use. It as a Martian analog so Astra was, actually a mission done here at JPL that, was testing, some of those like, an anemometer a wind speed measurement, for, Mars in, our atmosphere so, these are all great platforms, but the really exciting thing for me is being. Able to build the the Loon technology, itself to be able to enable all of these missions if you're going to be able to do any of these other cool things you need a good balloon platform, and that's really where the mission that I work John comes in so, I was on a mission called bit stable and it was really about advancing, the Poynting capability, of these platforms so. Let's talk about bit stable so--but, these. Are maybe a little tortured acronyms but that was the balloon for an imaging test fed engineers. Are maybe known for being, bad about that but. The Bloomberg imaging test hood was done by the University, of Toronto and now they were building the gondola, part of our balloon so the idea is that you attach your balloon up here off of a tether and this, gondola is what it held the, the stable, portion and so stable sub, arcsecond, telescope, and balloon experiment, was. Done here at JPL with, the contribution, of the camera by one, of the folks that you the in the UK and so, bit. Stable, the whole mission overall was technology, demonstration. Mission with the intent of proving that we can get really stable pointing, platforms, on/off, balloons. So. The main objectives, and here's. Where I get into my engineering is to demonstrate a hundred milli arc second point stability over at least sixty Seconds one Sigma praxis, given, a certain course stage pointing to within two are seconds over 120, seconds so what does that actually mean, if. You're, sitting on a really bouncy car and you're trying to take a picture out the window you're gonna get blurry images right like so the, the problem here is that if you're pointing platform, is shaking, all over the place and you're trying to take a picture of something extremely far away and and. Maybe even very dim or small you're, gonna get blurry, images and maybe not even see it so, what 100, milli arc seconds actually means is if, you were, sitting on earth and we're looking at the moon so that distance, you'd, be able to point your telescope such.
That It didn't vary. By, more than two Statue of Liberty is standing on the moon so, it's really tight pointing this, was an order of magnitude or or. So, better than some, of the capability, is out there so is one of those things that we're really trying to do to. Me to prove that this telescope, could really actually, achieve this really tight pointing, from. A balloon so, we. Also had a couple other objectives, we, were using a point source of light and this is because we didn't want to use Jupiter, because if all you can use is Jupiter it's nice and fat and a lot of light, coming off of it then, the only thing you can do with your instrument, is stare at Jupiter and maybe maybe, you want to see it other things and so we wanted to use a point source of light in the visible spectrum because. As Jose showed you if you look at the universe in the in the visible spectrum there's a lot of really cool points of light all over the map and so you can look at any part of the sky and probably find a star, that'll work for you as opposed, to say the infrared or something like that we, also had a signal, noise ratio which is basically identifying. How dim we wanted to be able to see the star so we wanted to be able to look at relatively dim stars because, they're more common in the sky if you can only look at again really bright stars you get to look at that one part of the sky but if you can prove that it's a pretty dim star and you can look at any part of the sky it gives you better opportunity, to do things like surveys, or maps and. We wanted to do it on a balloon above 25 kilometers because that's where the technology is really gonna make the difference for the scientists. Okay. So why, is that hard the. First is is really thermal, and dynamic disturbances, so when you start having a balloon, that's going up to all of these different at different, elevations. We, actually had an 80 degree C difference, between our hot case in our cold case and making sure that our telescope, would be nice and happy and give us a beautiful spot, on to our detector of the star that we were imaging, and all, of these different cases was a very big deal so, we spent a lot of time figuring out how to focus the system and how to manage all of these thermal unknowns that we weren't going to know until we, got down to the you know to the ice and we're trying to trying it out so, we needed a system that was pretty impervious, to thermal at disturbances, but, the real doozy is that is the dynamic one so, the. Problem of dynamic disturbances. Is especially when, you go up on a balloon you're gonna have motors, and other things that need to actuate because you're trying to move your telescope to point at different parts of the sky those, things you bring with you actually. Cause a lot of disturbances, especially, high frequency, ones and so, you know your motor just. Like in your phone things kind of buzz and by vibrate.
Those, Are disturbances from the environments, under those motors and reaction noodles can really mess up a pointing, system if if you don't take care of it so, we did unstable, is we developed, we call a power. Spectral density function, that told us what we needed to reject you can see over frequency, we said there's these little spikes of things that we know are going to be on our system and might, cause more energy going into our telescope, than we really like so, the idea here is that we we knew that this is what trying to reject, and we built a control system to, say at each of these frequencies be able to knock it down so that we had a really clear stable. Platform for taking pictures, all. Right so let me show you a little bit about how we were gonna do this as a technology, demonstration, we were only gonna do this for one day the idea was get up there so we can do it over, one night and once, that's done we can actually do a really long-term science, mission like the one in the Antarctic, that, would allow you to do longer-term observations. This was just a tech demo so. The, tech demo was, that we'd take off we'd. Go to float around 35, kilometers, and just for reference that's. Between. Commercial. Airliners, in Aurora so, kind of in that range we. Achieve, our float we'd be around 35 kilometers for the eight hours overnight we, do our observations. On various, stars and then at the end of the night we would release, and we, would land and recover. So. That was the idea and let's, show you the hardware that he had built to do it so. Like, I mentioned before this is the tether to the telescope and this is the gondola, and the, things that move the gondola, are there's, one up here this is actually a, motor. That allows you to to pivot so you can kind of unwind, the string you, could imagine that if you're trying to take pictures being on a Disney teacup, ride is not the most exciting parts that take pictures off of so, you have this thing here to unwind so the the tether you, also have this down here it's a basically a reaction wheel and uses conservation, of momentum so, when it spins up one way you spin your gondola the other way and this allows you to move in, asmath. And actually see different parts of the sky and then, if you peel back that gondola. You, can actually see here so this is our telescope. And right, here is where we actually grab for elevation so this this. Part, here has a motor on it and it was an elevation, motor so you can connect up ourselves up and down and actually see different parts of the sky that way so. If you peel that back and you just get the stable part stable. Here has looks, like this to, give you some sense of perspective this is about it a. Bad. Thing so this is about as big as I am. About as tall as I am it's. A point six meter telescope, and what. Happens is the light comes in here so we're looking at a star for example it hits our primary mirror. It goes into this part here which is our secondary mirror, and there's this kind of baffle, here so it goes into that hole and it gets picked up by this fold mirror on the back it gets reflected to, our tilt, mirror I'll show you that in a second and onto the camera and so the camera is what actually takes the images and we use that to sense right and say oh if, our spot is drifting off of a pixel too much then we've we, need to correct for it and so we'll tip a mirror to tip it back on to the pixels, we wanted so.
Kind Of show you we broke it up into two parts so the telescope part was the the front end of the optical part and the optical bench is assembly was on the back so. Again the telescope was a primary rapport point of this telescope was to actually get the star light onto our the back end and the back end here the point was to actually get that light back. Into the TEL into the camera. And do the control system and kind, of brains of the operation to, make sure that we're doing the control system properly so. The parts of Stables, technology, that are really relevant actually, lived here on the back on, the optical bench, assembly, so this is the part that faces the telescope, and this is the part you can see from, the back of it and so, the main parts of the control system we, had two computers. So there was a computer. Dedicated, just to managing, the data off of the camera itself and that, data, that came off the camera was again we're really trying to centroid, it we're saying okay the spot is we're on our detector and where's. The center of that spot and so once we knew the center of that spot we could cut a track how it was drifting over time and correct, for it in our computer so. This is the brains of the operation so, our C, and E HR commanded data handling assembly. Actually, did made the decisions it looked at all the sensor data and then it actually sent commands out to our actuators, to make sure that we corrected for it and then. Here our sensors, so this is an attitude rate sensor it's like the gyro and your phone except. Way better the. Fine guidance camera, here is that from the University of Durham and it's. Basically an optical camera that we characterize so that we could get the Sun charting data and then. Our actuators, we had a refocusing. Stage so this basically moved the camera back and forth along the optical. Path so we could actually focus off across a bunch. Of different thermal, conditions, and then, we had a fast steering mirror which basically has a little mirror on the end here and it tips and tilted it very fine and high-frequency motions. So, that when the the computer realized that we were drifting off too much it would correct. For it using this thing. Okay. So how do we know it were so we put all the technology together we have this system it was great so, we actually built it up in the lab so this is actually here at the MEC lab in JPL and here's, our bench assembly, you're looking at the fold mirror here and the, way that we tested it in the passive system as we said okay we're gonna give it a light source so this is an optical bench we put a light source here, and shown, it on to it like a fake star coming through our telescope and then, we just let the California. Seismic environment, do its job and so if we actually could reject our ambient and so, what happens is. That it worked we're like okay we, can reject noise great so, we have that and. Then we actually decided let's see if we can make this a little harder for ourselves and we put a little stinger, up here and, when a stinger is basically just a poker I think of like a three all three-year-old, kind of poking, poking poking so, what we did here is we had again a light source and an.
Optical Table but this time we actually poked it at specific frequencies I showed you those little spikes and our PSD we, wanted to know could be rejected the frequencies we were worried about and so what we showed here is that it worked I'm, not going to go into all the details I don't have enough time but there's a really cool paper you should definitely go read talks all about it so. That, being said this. Isn't a lab environment everything is like and the environment. For temperature, we don't have to worry about all the excitement's, of you know putting things together in the Antarctic so. How do we know it's going to work when we actually get to flow so. The way that we did that it was we had an analytical, analysis we call this a stop analysis, which goes through each phase of the different parts of the system and make sure that at the end we're gonna get the right answer so, the way that works is that we had a thorough analysis, first so we basically went, out and looked at all the different environments, we might see when we route flow we put them together and did some statistics, on it figured out what that would look like and that actually. Told us okay how is this thing gonna be you know are mirrors, gonna be at this temperature aren't our systems, gonna have, various, temperatures across the gradients, here once, we had that we passed it over to the structures guys and the structure people took that and said okay if it shrinks by this much and it moves by this much this is how everything's gonna move relative to each other once. You know that you can pass it over to the optics guys who say okay now my mirrors are now spaced, this way instead of this way and they, can actually tell you what the quality, of that light, spot is gonna look like on your detector, once, you know what that quality is your light spot looks like you hand it over to the controls people and say hey controls people here's the spot you get what, is it going to do so the controls folks also take all disturbances, from the environment, timing. Frequencies, information, about the computer. And the control system timing and they, do some analysis, to show what the answer is and that gives us our predicted at point point, at flow pointing performance so, we did all this I know, they're really cool paper you should definitely go read, so. We, actually found out that we at our worst case scenario got ninety four point five million seconds, over sixty seconds if you, fell. Asleep it's, a hundred million arc seconds and what we were going for so we actually were able to prove that even in the worst case we're gonna achieve the Poynting that we expected which, is fantastic we're like hey this technology, is great if we're gonna get great astronomy out of it so. Unfortunately. We lost our flight, opportunity, and so this is about as far off the ground as a stable guy. So. Our beautiful telescopes under here and it. Ended up in an Indiana Jones warehouse, next to the Ark of the Covenant somewhere, so. So. That's where it's table is right now that, thing said that's not the end of the story you know the cool thing about engineering, is that you learn things even, if you don't really go out and fly so one. Of the things that we were able to do is that our partners, at the University, of Toronto kept pushing this technology, they went out and actually built a mission, called super bit and super. Bit went and took this absolutely, beautiful picture, of the Eagle. Nebula and this is about 600, milliseconds if, you can imagine doing like six times better it even gets better from there so, this is so, so we knew the technology worked and our partners were able to go on and actually show it was able to make. The job, the. Other thing that we got out of this was actually team training so the staples. Legacy is that we were all actually, everyone. In this picture was on the team and every, one of us had been out of school for less than three years so. This was actually built, as a project at JPL to train us and under help us understand all the intricacies of how teaming.
Works And how engineering works at JPL so, you can see we, got exposures and in the admission in about three years and so those three years at, JPL, is really small scale and I'm on Europa clipper now which is decades long so, being able to see something like that in three years it's really an, exciting opportunity for teams and gives you a much higher. Dose, of what it means to be an engineer in this kind of team, we. Also had a lot more. To interface with hardware you see we're all standing around our flight hardware here everyone. Got a chance to touch it we all got a chance to get in there and see what it meant you know when we designed something on the white board what does it mean when we actually have to plug it in and so that was a really op excellent, opportunity, for us and because the, risks were a lot lower on something that's only a five million dollar mission instead of hundreds of millions of dollars we had a chance to actually get in there and really try things out and. For me in particular so, here I am, I was, the project systems engineer on this mission, and a project systems engineer is responsible for. Everything that no. One else thought of and smorc so, for example one of the my tasks, was to figure. Out if we had a treaty, agreement, with Canada to ensure that our balloon was not going to land on a world heritage site. So. So. All, these little things that have to get put together to make sure that the thing works it was a really excellent opportunity, to see that in fact here's some pictures again, of. Me. And. Here's the the truth of the matter is that all the cool Antarctic pictures you know are in that four week time period all of the years that will add up to it are mostly in conference rooms like this where you're drawing things on a board and every every. Engineer, from different subsystems are all standing together and the systems engineers on the board is like all right guys you, got to tell me when this signal goes to here who picks it up you do what happens next then we kind of draw it out it all comes together in, you know a whiteboard, or in a conference room and the really cool thing about balloons is that you, actually get to go then build it and see it and actually be the one to implement it and so that's one of the real magics, of these type of team is that you know I got to be here and here, in the span of just three years. So. Three years later where did this end up so it's a stable is still in a beautiful, warehouse. But. But, it really did have lasting benefits so for me for instance I'm actually, now on the Europa clipper mission, where I'm a systems engineer and I'll, tell you this is the Europe a clipper project, science group and I'm one. Of a much bigger team now and. So being, able to understand, how all of these interfaces work together is a really big part of why I feel, like I can actually be in a team that's big and still, be able to communicate across all these people so, it's a really excellent opportunity, and so now we're actually building a spacecraft, that's going to go explore the habit or habitability, of one of the icy moons of Jupiter and to. Me that that's exciting, if that's not exciting I don't know what excites you so. So. The thing that's really cool though is that it doesn't actually have to be at JPL JPL was my, first introduction to JPL was this mission but it was also my first introduction to NASA was was ballooning, so my very first internship, in 2005, was at Wallops Flight Facility where. They actually have a large, balloon program there and so the balloon program. Office has, this balloon making lab and so my internship, project my very first internship at NASA was.
Designing. And building these, balloons in their lab and actually coming. Up with different ways to fold and pack it so that we could see, inflation dynamics, so, here I am with my design, balloons and. I came up with some different packing, techniques using parachute, packing approaches. And we, packed, it into the back of a little. Rocket nose cone that we put on the back of this nineteen, seventies NASA pickup truck and. What happened is we. We, actually flew data we drove down the road and this parachute, would pick up at the right speed and it would actually pull this thing off the back you can kind of see it landing here the balloon would pop out and we'd study the inflation dynamics, as we were driving down the road and saw how different, packing, techniques affected, the inflation, time and things like that so again. I mean this is the the really you. Know cut your teeth on engineering, dumpster-diving, shopping, at the Pocomoke City Walmart. For four components. Kind of engineering that you don't really get a chance to see it kind of harkens back to the, early days of rocketry, and whatnot where everyone was just trying to figure it out and so a lot of that still happens in ballooning which makes it that kind of guerilla atmosphere, where everyone's just like let's make it work and you're all in it together. The. Cool thing about that was that we were actually studying, my, intern project was studying what, this. Inflation, dynamics because they wanted to put this on Mars the, idea is that if you had a parachute and you could decelerate, a drop a heat shield actually inflate with the atmosphere, as. You were coming down and then, the envelope, itself could be painted in such a way that it would warm up the atmosphere that, was in trapped, inside the balloon and it kind of create like a hot air balloon that could go down and sample some things so, I took this for my intern presentation, in 2005, and, I was looking around on the the balloon program website and found this in it ten. Years later so. They're still looking concepts, like this the really cool thing is the balloons you know are a great way to study what we do here on earth but, we're looking at ways to explore the as, a platform even further out so if.
You Look at it I mean it's got a lot of cool advantages, now if you were talking about balloons on Mars well, if you have a, rover. Which is excellent, we love the Rovers but, a balloon allows you to cover more horizontal, distance you, can revisit locations, over time you, get more diverse coverage of regions perhaps because, you get a little bit you don't have to worry about topography, or wheels or something like that and then compared to some of your orbiters you can also get higher resolution you're, a little closer to the surface and it's one of the only ways to actually get information along that vertical column and so it's a really exciting way to add, to, our understanding of, some of these planets, so. Blue. Missions to kind of summarize all of this talk so that both Jose and I did they're, really valuable contributors. To NASA's, mission both to pioneer the future and space exploration for, scientific, discovery whether, we're doing them on Earth's Mars, Venus Titan. Someday it's. A really valuable. Way of taking. Information training. Teams getting the technology and getting the science out of it and as, I mentioned before it's also really important for training us this next generation of explorers so. With that thank you so much. Thank, you folks and wonderful, job from our speakers here we are gonna open it up for questions, now now if you're here in the house we, do have a microphone right there in that center, aisle go. Ahead and line up there you can ask, your questions, they, will happily. Repeat. The question so everybody can hear it and, if you're watching home online please type, those questions in and we'll bring them up and try to get them on so. Questions. Please take it away there. We go somebody's working their way up there. Well. I noticed we didn't talk much about the materials, are the Blues mylar, is, element. Hydrogen used, is there a prosody, factor, do you need to regenerate if there's a prostitue, factor that, stuff what do you get. It's. Not the screen back there anymore. And. One of the website you, can actually have all the there, are different types of balloon that nASA has depends. On the duration everything, you, can have all the specific details and they're, online you go on and check did. You use hydrogen, helium. Helium, okay is. There a porosity factor, do the balloons leak. Acidic. And Ziggler bid that they. Have. It all figure out so basically in Montez it for example for our case it has some ballast so. I didn't lose this pressure with the fly you can you, can maintain altitude drop in some ballast but there are the balloons that are a different. Different. System, that they can maintain altitude and, go through the United cycles and NASA's testing right now so. Used ballast, rather than bringing more helium along - yeah. For, that is basic along we're using I also. Mentioned that when, I was at Wallops I was looking at some, of they have balloon materials, labs there and, they, were working, on prototype, materials, for balloons for Venus because obviously Venus is a very different environment and you don't want to put a you know a piece of plastic that's gonna just disintegrate.
So They, were actually looking at a mylar, laminate, with Kevlar. On it I believe as one. Of the envelope materials. So, it's gonna depend on where you go, interesting. Thank you. I. Noticed. That you did use, helium, now I realized, that it, won't explode like, hydrogen will but. Hydrogen seems, to have a lot of other advantages what, was the main advantage. Of using helium, over hydrogen. For. Instance, hydrogen. Gives you more lift and I. Assume, you can do things safely so it won't explode. You. Have again to go to the balloon, program office and probably they have a lot of information about how. NASA is, that we were working mostly in the payload but, NASA. The balloon office, works. On the balloons and you know separate they have all these different but one so, I'm. Sure that all the informations you can find it online on there thank. You speculate. They're trying to get you know just his payload down to Antarctica was quite a multi-step, journey with things on boats for a long time so even if you can work with hydrogen. When, you're out there you the the cost. Of having an accident of some kind is probably a lot higher so you want to maybe manage. That safety risk. How. Do you control the flight, the. Elevation, the position. We. Saw it goes around and. Related. Question, why. Do you bring it back, do. You have any communication. Why. Don't you keep it there forever. You. Don't want it to drift out continent. I mean. If if, it, falls in the water that's. Fine you lose the payload but you want to recover the tail of the specially on these flies so. You want to make sure that it doesn't go off continent, so you terminate. The mission before it has happened at, some point the, Antarctic vortex you can i disappear and it will vary for continent, do. You know what it is because you have gps antennas, and all that you are in constant communication through, satellite with the so. You can you are operating the the. Balloon up flight, you. Have of course the pointing. System you can control. The elevation. And the azimuth laura, probably can talk more about the Deponia system. But you have full-time, communications, hey there there are a couple of random systems so, we are controlling the balloon all the time in. Terms of trajectory, control you, can control your elevation, by making. Sure you have the right amount of lifting. Gas compared, to your weight and you. Actually do find that you'll get diurnal. Variations, you kind of move around over. Night. For example and the way they manage that is with, ballast, and so if you you know that you're about to drop down you can drop some ballast to try to maintain some of that altitude but, you don't really control for, most typical balloons you're, kind of XY coordinates, as you go around that's really dominated, by the prevailing, winds Jose.
I Mentioned that you you. Have a kill switch so that if it gets too far away you can actually take it down before it goes se out into the ocean or our. Flight was supposed to happen up actually in Norway so, if it gets too close to Russian airspace you want to take. It down before they do but. But. Yeah so so that's the way you really just you have to watch it you manage, it with GPS and it's it's more of a knowledge thing, than a control thing there, are some proposal, ideas, out there about how to make it more, of a shapes form kind of a dirigible type, thing where you can actually manage its trajectory, and, XY as well but, those are a little bit more involved. So. You can do control the azimuth and elevation but, you don't control the path it just gets the right with the wind right and, what's the maximum elevation. Depends. On the weight, of your payload. I think, it's. Around 40 kilometers around. 140,000. Feet something like that, again. Is, the. Higher the. Heavier. Your payload is the. Lower. You go I mean I. Think. You both threw a wonderful lecture, Jose, I wanted, to ask you specifically, about the, component, you have on the table and the, difference, or what changes you made between that and the new Jen. So. The one that we've recovered which is the big one it, has is. It's. One of the drivers of the receiver, so. It has four. Channels, so, basically like we have four receivers right. - not the same. Mission. Or in this case was carbon I have a nice carbon. The. Other one it was the next generation so of course we will find, that we're planning to fly that but we are the same time we're working on the next step. Better. Designs, had better, packaging, so so, that they won the small one that you see there is, actually 16, receivers, or 16, transmitter. In this case it's a transmitter, type, flexing, are. You multiplexing. No. No yes. 16. Transmitter. And the, receiver part would have system receiver, but. It.
Consumes. Less. Power than, the other one which is 4 this, one has 16 of, course it's much much smaller we. Use less one learn from the other one, to. Implement the new one so in the nest or, fully, belong flag we, will try to fry the a new generation it, also allow us to you. Know in the same form. Factor add. More channels, more. Frequency, coverage, thank. You. So. We do have two, questions from we had a lot of questions from the internet and there were great questions but we have time for two, of them so. I'm gonna start. With. Question from you two kind. Of on the design you talk about with planetary, could. We launch a Mars, mission with. A balloon to be launched from the surface, of Mars rather, than what we saw in the image before. Yeah. I mean there are a lot of concepts, I think that you. Know if you give an engineer a difficult. Problem they'll find a way to make it work. We've. Shown before yeah. The specific, concepts that I was studying as an intern was there, are some advantages to using the, atmosphere, that. You have, rather than bringing it with you and mostly you're a lot less prone to leaks and. So if you you know lose a little bit of helium that you brought with you then that's kind of the end of it but if, you can heat up and kind of keep replenishing the, atmosphere, you, have then, you, might be able to stay up