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NASA Balloon Gobbles Antarctic Data, Records

Cosmic ray detector spends 55 days aloft
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2013 12:13 AM CST

(Newser) – A NASA scientific balloon on a mission over the Antarctic to detect cosmic rays has completed a record-breaking flight. The Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder—"Super-TIGER"—broke the record for longest flight by a balloon of its size 46 days into its mission and landed after 55 days, setting the flight duration record for any heavy-lift scientific balloon , NASA says. It flew at 127,000 feet, four times higher than commercial airliners.

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Super-TIGER, which carried an instrument to detect rare elements heavier than iron in cosmic rays, brought back so much information that scientists will spend two years analyzing it. "This has been a very successful flight because of the long duration, which allowed us to detect large numbers of cosmic rays," a Super-TIGER mission chief says. "The instrument functioned very well." (Read more NASA stories.)

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