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Download by parachute: retrieval of assets from high altitude balloons

Author(s): Sirks, EL; Clark, P; Massey, RJ; Benton, SJ; Brown, AM; et al

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Abstract: We present a publicly-available toolkit of flight-proven hardware and software to retrieve 5 TB of data or small physical samples from a stratospheric balloon platform. Before launch, a capsule is attached to the balloon, and rises with it. Upon remote command, the capsule is released and descends via parachute, continuously transmitting its location. Software to predict the trajectory can be used to select a safe but accessible landing site. We dropped two such capsules from the SuperBIT telescope, in September 2019. The capsules took similar to 37 minutes to descend from similar to 30 km altitude. They drifted 32 km and 19 km horizontally, but landed within 300 m and 600 m of their predicted landing sites. We found them easily, and successfully recovered the data. We welcome interest from other balloon teams for whom the technology would be useful.
Publication Date: 22-May-2020
Electronic Publication Date: May-2020
Citation: Sirks, EL, Clark, P, Massey, RJ, Benton, SJ, Brown, AM, Damaren, CJ, Eifler, T, Fraisse, AA, Frenk, C, Funk, M, Galloway, MN, Gill, A, Hartley, JW, Holder, B, Huff, EM, Jauzac, M, Jones, WC, Lagattuta, D, Leung, JSY, Li, L, Luu, TVT, McCleary, J, Nagy, JM, Netterfield, CB, Redmond, S, Rhodes, JD, Romualdez, LJ, Schmoll, J, Shaaban, MM, Tam, SI. (2020). Download by parachute: retrieval of assets from high altitude balloons. JOURNAL OF INSTRUMENTATION, 15 (5), 10.1088/1748-0221/15/05/P05014
DOI: doi:10.1088/1748-0221/15/05/P05014
ISSN: 1748-0221
Type of Material: Journal Article
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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