Floating into Thin Air

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On May 18, 2005, a giant helium balloon carrying the High Energy Focusing Telescope (HEFT) sailed into the spring sky over the deserts of New Mexico. The spindly steel and aluminum gondola that houses the optics, detectors, and other components of the telescope floated for 25 hours after its launch from Fort Sumner, New Mexico. For 21 of those hours, the balloon was nearly 40 kilometers above Earth's surface--almost four times higher than the altitude routinely flown by commercial jet aircraft. In the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere, HEFT searched the universe for x-ray sources from highly energetic objects such ... continued below

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PDF-file: 6 pages; size: 2.6 Mbytes

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Hazi, A U February 6, 2007.

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Description

On May 18, 2005, a giant helium balloon carrying the High Energy Focusing Telescope (HEFT) sailed into the spring sky over the deserts of New Mexico. The spindly steel and aluminum gondola that houses the optics, detectors, and other components of the telescope floated for 25 hours after its launch from Fort Sumner, New Mexico. For 21 of those hours, the balloon was nearly 40 kilometers above Earth's surface--almost four times higher than the altitude routinely flown by commercial jet aircraft. In the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere, HEFT searched the universe for x-ray sources from highly energetic objects such as binary stars, galaxy clusters, and supermassive black holes. Before landing in Arizona, the telescope observed and imaged a dozen scientific targets by capturing photons emitted from these objects in the high-energy (hard) x-ray range (above 10 kiloelectronvolts). Among these targets were the Crab synchrotron nebula, the black hole Cygnus X-1 (one of the brightest x-ray sources in the sky), and the blazar 3C454.3. The scientific data gathered from these targets are among the first focused hard x-ray images returned from high altitudes.

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PDF-file: 6 pages; size: 2.6 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-227893
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/902619 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 902619
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc890013

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  • February 6, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Dec. 5, 2016, 4:16 p.m.

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Hazi, A U. Floating into Thin Air, report, February 6, 2007; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc890013/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.