3 Jul 2016

'Super balloon' completes mission in Peru

1:50 pm on 3 July 2016

A Nasa super balloon launched from Wanaka just under seven weeks ago has landed in Peru, a result a Nasa spokesman describes as a game changer for science.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research balloon, carrying scientific equipment, was successfully launched in Wanaka on 17 May.

It was the fifth time it had tried to fly, with previous attempts thwarted by adverse weather.

The balloon launch in Wanaka

The upper atmosphere balloon was launched at Wanaka Airport. Photo: SUPPLIED

The American space agency's balloon came down to earth about 8am New Zealand time.

The giant balloon, which is nearly 70m high when fully inflated, is being tested as part of a "mission" to study the centre of the galaxy using gamma rays.

The payload will be used to study deep space astronomy at a fraction of the cost of launching a satellite.

At the time of the launch it was reported that NASA was considering establishing a permanent base at Wanaka.

The American space agency said by staying aloft for 46 days, the balloon had set a record for a mid-latitude flight.

Spokesman Jeremy Eggers said the mission was one step closer to proving the new technology worked.

"We are just thrilled. By far this mission broke the record for any mid-latitude balloon flight. That's a game changer for how we conduct science today."

Mr Eggers said Nasa expected to have an ongoing relationship with New Zealand for years ahead.

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