Hello Glasgow Middle School (Fairfax County, VA)
Launch of MAXIS balloon at McMurdo Station, Antarctica
January 12, 2000 the MAXIS
(MeV Auroral X-ray Imaging and
Spectroscopy) balloon was launched from Williams Field, McMurdo
Station Antarctica after more than three weeks of weather related
delays. This experiment was originally scheduled for launch
in June of 1999 from Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, Alaska. However, the
Alaska launch was cancelled and rescheduled for Antarctica.
Between January 12-30, 2000 the MAXIS balloon successfully
circumnavigated the South Pole at altitudes of
about 120,000 feet and was similar to the
1998 northern hemisphere balloon
flight in its science objectives.
Current Mission Status
Click on map above for the complete MAXIS trajectory.
17:40 UTC February 8, 2000 (Tuesday):
LOCAL: 06:40 February 9, 2000 (Wednesday):
The MAXIS balloon was terminated on January 30, 2000 at 22:13 UT
after a successful 450 hour flight. The balloon was cut-down over
Victoria Land, approximately 390 nautical miles from McMurdo Station.
On February 3, 2000 the recovery team (Steven Peterzen and Robyn Millan)
reached the payload via Twin Otter and found
the gondola in relatively good condition considering it had come to a stop
upside down following landing. The data vault containing the hard drive,
the UW x-ray imagers, the BGO detector,
and three of the four sun-sensor arrays were among the
components successfully recovered.
During the mission, the auroral x-ray instruments on
MAXIS recorded an event between
21:20 UT January 19 and 00:20 UT
January 20. Also, an auroral x-ray event possibly associated with a
shock in the solar wind was observed between January 22-26, 2000.
Preliminary data for these events are given
here. These data were received
from the low-rate TDRSS satellite telemetry link.
The scientific purpose for the MAXIS flight is to study electron
precipitation from the magnetosphere into the ionosphere. This electron
precipitation creates the aurora (northern and southern lights)
along with X-rays which can be observed with our balloon instrumentation. For this project, the
University of Washington provided a bismuth germanate (BGO) X-ray spectrometer
and two X-ray imaging
cameras. One camera has
a pinhole collimator and the other has a coded aperture mask collimator.
Both cameras use scintillating crystals and photomultiplier tubes to
detect X-rays which are produced in the aurora. The Berkeley balloon group
provided a high resolution
spectrometer. All of these
instruments flew on the
INTERBOA campaign in
1996, where they observed an unusual relativistic electron
Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is providing a radiation shielding experiment as a
piggy-back experiment on this flight.
MAXIS balloon inflation