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© Sébastien CHASTANET / CNES / OMP / IRAP / UT3 / CNRS Images



Le ballon stratosphérique de la mission PILOT sur le tarmac d'Alice Springs

The stratospheric balloon for the PILOT mission, on the tarmac at the Alice Springs facility in Australia. The balloon, which will expand to a volume of 800,000 cu. m, is inflated on the ground until it becomes buoyant. The PILOT astronomical science balloon, designed for use in studying the origins of the universe, aims to measure submillimetric polarised emissions from interstellar dust. More specifically, the project aims to map the magnetic fields in the interstellar clouds of the Milky Way, and study their role in star formation These unprecedented measurements are being made using a stratospheric balloon to which the instrument gondola is attached. Measurements are more economical and simpler to perform using balloons than using satellites. Launched to a height of 40 km on 16 April 2017, PILOT gathered data that would have been impossible to collect using ground-based telescopes, as the Earth's atmosphere partially blocks cosmic radiation.

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