Screamin’ Mad Balloon

December 26th, 2007 andrea

ldb with atic payload
Filling up the balloon was loud. Painfully, mind-numbingly, and gloriously, worth-staying-up-all-night-loud. And, despite my default all-access pass, I still got a little too up close and personal. In this recording of the beginning of the inflation, you can hear me walking right up to the balloon and (sigh), being asked to step back.
Luckily, it got a lot louder. Here’s a short sample. The recording is binaural and has some nice spatialized effects. Unfortunately, I don’t think that even binaurals can effectively reproduce the massive height of the sound when it is experienced in person.

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Early Morning Long Duration Balloon Launch

December 26th, 2007 andrea

ldb phil austin
Yesterday was my last chance to view a Long Duration Balloon launch at Wilie Field. Two launches had already happened while I was at the pole and in the Dry Valleys, so I was especially hoping to see this last one. An attempt at launching the ATIC payload was planned for 8PM last night (see http://www.nsbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice0708.htm for more details on all three experiments).

However, due to weather conditions, which need to be perfect, the balloon didn’t launch until 3AM. I stuck it out and the overcast weather and late hour gave me the benefit of being one of only two observers, and lots of access to recording. The entire experience was a blast. There was lots of time to joke around with the launch crew, and talk with the meteorology group (including Anne Dalvera who was sending up pibals – short for ‘pilot balloons’ – every half-hour) and the physicists running the experiments.

The following recordings are all binaural (yup, headphones!) and are only about 2 or 3 minutes max. First is a recording of downtime in the LDB galley. In it you can hear the voice of Kevin Yuill on the radio giving his weather observation report from the tower:
Phil Austin shown here was coordinating the entire production and generously spent time taking me through the process. Here is a recording of Phil right before the launch explaining what will happen:

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