As stargazers keep their hopes up for an awesome show from ISON, dubbed the “comet of the century,” a balloon NASA sent into space is intended to bring back more information about the celestial event.
But this is not your average balloon. At 671 feet tall, NASA’s balloon – named BRRISON, which stands for Balloon Rapid Response for ISON – can carry up to 8,000 pounds.
The comet ISON will whiz by the sun on Nov. 28 (2013) and it may light up brightly enough that we Earthlings can see it during the day, and without using telescopes. NASA hoped to gather more data about the comet through BRRISON, including images. According to a tweet from Sept. 28, the balloon launched successfully, and would float as high as 140,000 feet in the air.
However, NASA released a statement the following day explaining that, after troubles with its telescope, BRRISON could not gather any data. The statement mentioned that a team will be looking at BRRISON to analyze its equipment, though further plans for the balloon were not addressed.
Launching rockets from huge balloons may be safer for the ozone layer than rockets launched from the ground.