UC Berkeley
U of Washington
NASA NSBF, MSFC, Wallops Island, White Sands
M eV A uroral X -ray I maging and S pectroscopy
1999/2000 Long Duration Balloon Flight Around the South Pole

Picture Gallery




Hello Glasgow Middle School (Fairfax County, VA)

Launch of MAXIS balloon at McMurdo Station, Antarctica

On 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 germanium X-ray spectrometer. All of these instruments flew on the INTERBOA campaign in 1996, where they observed an unusual relativistic electron precipitation event.

Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is providing a radiation shielding experiment as a piggy-back experiment on this flight.

MAXIS balloon inflation

Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences Homepage
Updated Nov 2011