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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A stadium-sized super pressure balloon, designed by NASA, takes flight i...

A stadium-sized super pressure balloon launched by NASA in New Zealand began collecting data in near space on April 25, beginning a 100-day planned journey after several launch attempts were thwarted by a series of storms and cyclones.

The balloon, designed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to detect ultra-high energy cosmic particles from beyond the galaxy as they penetrate the earth's atmosphere, is expected to circle the planet two or three times.The balloon, launched on Tuesday (April 25) in Wanaka, a scenic spot on New Zealand's South Island, will collect data from 34 kilometres (21.1 miles) above the earth.

New Zealand was also the base for NASA's scientific balloon programme in 2015 and 2016. The remote country is looking to use its relatively isolated position, compared with the northern hemisphere's crowded skies, to make itself new space launching hub. As well as scientific monitoring equipment, the balloon was carrying a small red poppy, a symbol of a major WWI battle at Gallipoli, a nod to the launch taking place on ANZAC day, a public holiday commemorating Australian and New Zealand WWI and WWII fighters.