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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Ballooning

Balloon Program Office


Balloon missions have contributed in essential ways to Scientific Spacecraft Missions.

  • NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) instruments all developed from Balloon-flight instruments.
  • Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) balloon flights in the late 80's and 90's laid the critical ground work for the design of Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).
  • The scintillating fiber trajectory detector on the NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) Cosmic Ray Isotope Spectrometer was demonstrated first in a balloon flight.
  • Detectors on the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) mission were first developed and demonstrated on balloon-borne instruments.
  • On NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS-Aura) satellite, the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES), and High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS), these instruments all trace their heritage to instruments that first flew on balloons. WMAP and RHESSI Missions
  • NASA Code 820

    Scientific Balloon Update

    Report back for the latest update from NASA's Balloon Program Office.