Stratospheric cruise a lot cheaper than rockets, perhaps.
NASA wants to lift a 2.5-metre-long, reusable far-infrared telescope into Earth’s stratosphere using a massive high-altitude balloon in 2023 to check out the heavens more economically. The mission, known as ASTHROS, short for Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High-spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter- …
For the air pressure, sell 'em a space suit (and a diaper). For the landing, simply parachute the tourists out when they are within a half mile of the
ground Antarctic Ocean. The folks adventurous enough to pay good money for this kind of thing will be happy to pay a little bit more (and suffer in the pretense of dignity) in their quest to kill themselves for the ultimate adrenaline high.
Wait and see the results - I have a feeling they are certainly on to something here. I dont think there are many areas of turbulence in the stratosphere to worry about. OK noctoluminescent clouds show waves and stuff but if you watch them for as long as you can they are pretty stable and dont seem to move fast enough to be of any concern - FFS even I can take a smooth video of someone across the pub after 15 pints holding a phone by the edges so I can imagine a 2.5m scope with NASA tech on it is going to miss a photon of its target unless a meteorite or bloody space tourist gets in the way.
This isnt a particularly new technique for space work (well maybe for NASA), but DLR (the German Space Agency) and the Swedish Space Agency have been running BEXUS (Balloon Experiments for University Students) since 2007.
OK BEXUS isnt so long lasting (its a day trip to ~30km), but it is aimed at Uni Students (and with the budget to match). There's quite a history of balloon based space research, it is signifcantly cheaper than rockets, and for a lot of things works just as well, as being all the way up.
Long infrared is normally background limited so you take a bunch of shorter exposures, hope the background is more random than the source and do a bunch of clever stats.
there isn't the same need to keep locked on a single target for hours as in bands where you are readout noise limited.
No mention of how this expensive and relatively delicate telescope will be recovered for it's potential future re-use. Will they just be hoping it will land somewhere accessible, do they have enough control to bring it down somewhere soft (not water!) or have they some sort of flying collection plan to pluck it from the sir? That sounds like it might be some interesting tech or engineering.
"I used to charge my phone from my stove."
Wow. Thats an... inefficient... way to charge your phone. I sincerely hope you weren't turning on your stove JUST to charge your phone. If you were cooking something else and just using the excess to charge you're phone fine, but turning heat into electricity anywhere outside of an actual power plant is hugely inefficient and wasteful...
I run a wood burner in winter and use a stovetop fan to help circulate the hot air, that is the Seebeck effect, I suspect Danny has a similar stove using the same effect to charge his phone.
The reverse is the Peltier effect for cooling, far less efficient than conventional refrigeration but needs no compressor and liquid filled heat exchanger.
It will use Helium. Your googling was really hardly half-arsed - more like quarter-arsed - given it says so in the press release linked from the El Reg article. I was more intrigued by the idea that a balloon is 'higher risk' than a spacecraft - but that turns out to be awkward phrasing - what NAS have said is that you can afford to fly more technologically risky cutting-edge kit on a balloon, not that balloons pose particularly high risks of explosive disassembly
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