coondoggie writes "The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said today they had set a new record in the almost 20-year history of scientific ballooning in Antarctica, by launching and operating three long-duration sub-orbital flights simultaneously within a single southern-hemisphere summer. Scientists use data collected from such high-altitude balloons to study ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, search for anti-matter and look at other environmental or astrophysical experiments.
The NSF supports long-duration balloon flights in Antarctica to conduct astrophysical experiments. Circling the continent on unique stratospheric winds at altitudes of roughly 23 miles for periods of up to 31 days, experiments operate in an area that is almost free of atmospheric interference. For some experiments, this provides scientists with conditions equivalent to flight aboard a satellite or the space shuttle, at much lower cost.
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