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Going for the GUSTO in Antarctica

Tractors and other heavy machinery rest on the snowy plain in the foreground. In the middle of the image, a dark gray aircraft sits on the ground as a smaller white aircraft, NASA's C-130, lands.
NASA / Scott Battaion

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility C-130 aircraft, shown in this image from Oct. 28, 2023, delivered the agency’s Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO) payload to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. This was the first mission to Antarctica for the plane.

The GUSTO mission, launching aboard a football-stadium-sized, zero-pressure scientific balloon in December 2023, will fly an Ultralong-Duration Balloon (ULDB) carrying a telescope with carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen emission line detectors. This unique combination of data will supply the spectral and spatial resolution information needed for the mission team to untangle the complexities of the cosmic material found between stars, and map out large sections of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy and the nearby galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud.

See more photos from the C-130’s voyage to Antarctica.

Image Credit: NASA/Scott Battaion