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BRRISON gondola close-up (20130926055300).jpg
BRRISON prior to launch
Location(s)United States
Telescope styleBalloon-borne telescope
Optical telescope Edit this on Wikidata

The Balloon Rapid Response for ISON (BRRISON) was a NASA project involving a stratospheric balloon with science instruments intended to study comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) and other celestial objects.


The balloon featured an azimuth and attitude stabilized gondola carrying an 80-centimeter (31 in) telescope and two instruments on separate optical benches.[1][2] The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory contributed the BRRISON Infrared Camera (BIRC) for detecting water and carbon dioxide at 2.5 to 5 μm.[1][3] The Southwest Research Institute provided the Ultraviolet-Visible light camera (UVVis) with a fine steering mirror to detect hydroxyl (308 nm) and cyanogen (385 nm) emissions.[1][3] To save time, both the telescope and gondola avionics were refurbished from JHU/APL's Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory mission.[4][5] The BRRISON payload was intended to operate at 36,600 meters (120,000 ft) for up to 22 hours.[6] The mission cost US$10.2 million, excluding the balloon and NASA personnel expenses,[4] and progressed from concept to launch pad in ten months.[6]


While Comet ISON was the primary target, this mission also planned to observe other objects, including comet 2P/Encke, Jupiter and its moons, the Mizar star system, Earth's Moon, and asteroids 10 Hygiea and 130 Elektra.[7] Another goal was to measure Earth's atmospheric transmission and emission using BIRC and atmospheric turbulence using UVVis.[8]


The balloon was launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on 28 September 2013 at 18:10 MDT (29 September 2013 at 00:10 UTC).[5][7] However, about two and a half hours after launch,[9] a communication interruption between hardware caused the telescope to return to its stowed position too rapidly, resulting in the stow bar being trapped.[10] Team members worked to fix the problem, but the telescope was unable to be redeployed.[9] The decision was made to keep the balloon afloat until it reached a safe location for mission termination, which occurred on 29 September at 06:04 MDT (12:04 UTC).[5] The gondola and its payload was released under parachute and recovered near Spur, Texas,[5] in "excellent condition".[11] The hardware may be reused on future balloon missions.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Kremic & Cheng 2014, p. 5.
  2. ^ Landis 2013, p. 15.
  3. ^ a b "BRRISON". NASA Planetary Data System Small Body Node. University of Maryland. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b Landis 2013, p. 11.
  5. ^ a b c d Pacheco, Luis Eduardo, ed. (2014). "BRRISON (Balloon Rapid Response for ISON)". StratoCat. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  6. ^ a b "NASA's BRRISON Heads West to Prepare to Meet Comet ISON". Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. 6 September 2013. Archived from the original on 30 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b Brown, Geoffrey (28 September 2013). "BRRISON Soars to Study Comet ISON" (Press release). Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  8. ^ Cheng et al. 2013, p. 11.
  9. ^ a b Eggers, Jeremy (29 September 2013). "BRRISON suffers science payload anomaly, unable to collect data". NASA. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  10. ^ Kremic & Cheng 2014, p. 10.
  11. ^ Kremic & Cheng 2014, p. 11.
  12. ^ Kremic & Cheng 2014, p. 12.


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