BARREL (Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses) is a multiple-balloon investigation that will study Earth's Radiation Belts.
Atmospheric losses of relativistic electrons play an important role in radiation belt dynamics; precipitation into the atmosphere may even completely deplete the radiation belts in some cases.
BARREL is the first NASA Living With a Star Geospace Mission of Opportunity, and will support NASA's RBSP (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) mission.
We had a busy weekend down South! Yesterday (6Jan), the SANAE team launched two payloads (Payload 1L at 1357 UT and Payload 1M at 1803UT). We were interested in measuring small scale structure using the overlapping fields of view of two payloads. Unfortunately, we lost contact with 1L on the ascent. The balloon had a healthy ascent rate and John and Brett could see it through binoculars many hours later. Since we have not had contact with it, we expect it to self-terminate at 0200 this morning. Payload 1M is doing very well and currently at 35 km altitude. We launched this payload with only two solar panels as a test and it is working beautifully.
Payloads 1B, 1D, 1J, 1K are still up as well, though we anticipate terminating 1B tomorrow. This balloon has shown a larger altitude decrease than the others. So, we now have five payloads up! There *still* hasn't been much geomagnetic activity - things have been unusually quiet - but we expect some activity tomorrow or the next day. Keep your fingers crossed.
The SANAE team has had an improvement in their weather forecast and are looking at a possible launch opportunity tomorrow at 1400 UT (1/8/13). The Halley team has been experiencing 25 knot winds but also expects good conditions by late tomorrow/early Wednesday. We have Payload 1I ready to launch here and 1G on the bench undergoing testing.