Balloon Array for Radiation-belt Relativistic Electron Losses (BARREL)

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BARREL Mission Statement

Balloon Array for Radiation-belt Relativistic Electron Losses (BARREL) is a balloon-based Mission of Opportunity to augment the measurements of NASA's Van Allen Probes spacecraft. BARREL seeks to measure the precipitation of relativistic electrons from the radiation belts during 2 multi-balloon campaigns, operated in the southern hemispheres (option for 3rd northern hemisphere campaign). During each campaign, 5-8 long-duration balloons would be aloft simultaneously over a one-month period to provide measurements of the spatial extent of the relativistic electron precipitation and to allow an estimate of the total electron loss from the radiation belts. Observations are planned for when the balloon-array will be conjugate with the spacecraft, such that direct comparison is possible between one another.

BARREL Antarctica 2013 payload paths. › View larger
BARREL Antarctica 2013 payload paths. Credit: NASA

BARREL consists of two Antarctic balloon campaigns conducted in Austral summers of 2013 and 2014. During each campaign, a total of 20 small (~20 kg) balloon payloads will be launched to an altitude of 30-35 km to maintain an array of 5-8 payloads. Each balloon will carry a NaI scintillator to measure the bremsstrahlung X-rays produced by precipitating relativistic electrons as they collide with neutrals in Earth's atmosphere, and a DC magnetometer. The balloons will be launched from the South African Antarctic Station (SANAE IV) and the British station, Halley Bay.

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Launch Dates

December 2012/January 2013 (Antarctic)

December 2013/January 2014 (Antarctic)


Media Resources

Members of the media, please contact any of the following:

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Susan Hendrix

NASA Headquarters
Dwayne Brown


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Page Last Updated: April 25th, 2014
Page Editor: Holly Zell