NASA Loses Observatory After 36 Hours in the Air
The space agency is working tirelessly on various missions that will pave the way for advancements in the field of space exploration, but sometimes, accidents happen. Recently, one such mishap caused a balloon, the size of a football stadium, to settle over the ocean, which prevented a new mission from coming to fruition.
Space missions do not always go smoothly, but tests must be conducted to ensure future launches are perfect. Elon Musk can attest to this with the Starship launch fiasco. However, the loss of the Extreme Universe Space Observatory 2 (EUSO-2) mission was much more significant.
NASA launched EUSO-2 from the Wānaka airport in New Zealand on May 13. The mission aimed to gather more information about the origin of cosmic ray particles from ultra high energy beyond Earth. The launch was a success, and the flight too, until 36 hours later when everything changed.
The balloon’s flight controllers experienced a problem related to a leak, and they attempted to solve it. Despite NASA’s efforts to keep it in the air, they had to let the two-ton artifact fall into the Pacific Ocean.
Thankfully, NASA was prepared to minimize the environmental impact of the balloon’s landing. For instance, NASA quickly sunk the ship even with a balloon the size of a football field. Debbie Fairbrother, the head of NASA’s Balloon Science Program, said that “this is an unfortunate end to the mission, and we will investigate the cause to help us continue to improve super-pressure balloon technology.”
As space agencies work towards groundbreaking advancements in space exploration, tests and a significant investment in resources are necessary. However, such efforts are prone to setbacks that could jeopardize the mission’s success. In the case of NASA’s EUSO-2 project, the space agency will investigate the cause of the unfortunate end to the mission to help enhance super-pressure balloon technology, which is essential for the future of space exploration.