NASA’s BARREL Mission Launches 20 Balloons

A crane lowers two BARREL balloon payloads onto the platform at Halley Research Station in Antarctica

NASA’s BARREL Mission Halley Station

A balloon begins to rise over the brand new Halley VI Research Station, which had its grand opening in February 2013

Balloon Array for RBSP Relativistic Electron Losses (BARREL) is a NASA mission operated out of Dartmouth College that works with the Van Allen Probes mission (formerly known as the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission).[1] The BARREL project has launched 20 balloons from Antarctica during each of two balloon campaigns in January 2013 and January 2014. Unlike the football-field-sized balloons typically launched at the Poles, these are each just 90 feet in diameter.[2]

Scientific ObjectivesEdit

BARREL will help study the Van Allen Radiation Belts and why they wax and wane over time. Each BARREL balloon carries instruments to measure particles ejected from the Belts which make it all the way to Earth's atmosphere.[2] By comparing such data to that of RBSP—which is up beyond the atmosphere observing the Belts from a closer viewpoint—the two experiments can try to correlate observations in the Radiation Belts with the number of particles ejected.[3] This will help distinguish between various theories of what causes electron loss in the Belts.[4]


The Principal Investigator is Robyn Millan at Dartmouth College. Co-Investigator institutions are University of Washington, U. C. Berkeley, and U. C. Santa Cruz. BARREL is part of NASA's Living With a Star program.[3] Support for the Antarctica balloon campaigns is provided by the National Science Foundation, British Antarctic Survey, and South African National Antarctic Program.


External linksEdit

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