September 6, 2013
NASA's BRRISON Heads West to Prepare to Meet Comet ISON
NASA’s Balloon Rapid Response for Comet ISON (BRRISON) gondola and science instruments have departed APL — just five months after construction began – on a three-day road trip to the NASA Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. When BRRISON reaches the facility, the pieces of the gondola, 0.8-meter telescope, and sensors will be removed from their specially built shipping containers and carefully reassembled and tested for launch at the end of September, weather permitting.
“Thanks to the diligent work of teams from NASA, APL, and the Southwest Research Institute, we’re able to ship BRRISON to the launch site just 10 months after the idea of this mission was born,” says Dewey Adams, APL BRRISON program manager. “We look forward preparing BRRISON for launch so it can send back valuable scientific information about comet ISON.”
ISON is a Sun-grazing comet from the distant Oort Cloud, a remnant of the solar system’s formation more than four billion years ago. “By ascending above 99.5% of the Earth’s atmosphere, BRRISON will be able to study the materials within the comet,” says APL’s Andy Cheng, BRRISON principal investigator. “It’s possible that water and organic chemicals on comets may have played an important role in the evolution of life on Earth.” BRRISON will also study numerous other celestial objects during a flight lasting up to 22 hours that will reach an altitude of approximately 120,000 feet.
The BRRISON project is led by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. APL built the gondola and the infrared instrument, provided the telescope, and manages the project for NASA. The Southwest Research Institute Planetary Science Directorate in Boulder, CO, built and manages the near ultraviolet/visible light instrument.
For more information about BRRISON and ISON, visit http://brrison.jhuapl.edu/index.php.