Last Sunday evening The High Altitude Balloon Group Near Space Sciences launched EarthBreeze II, their 51st of these high altitude balloon experiments. We have been doing these flights for almost 25 years now and are always trying something new.
All was going well for the first three hours of flight. Then as it was nearing the coldest altitude, It began to operate oddly. Maybe some background of the flight is in order here first. Please go to the following web page to learn all about this flight. It is a very unique flight.
Ok, symptoms of behaving oddly. As I said as the payload traveled into the colder parts of it's journey, one of the last telemetries had it being -47 deg C! The RTTY transmissions were designed to have a 200 Hz shift. controlled by a crystal. As the flight continued on, this shift was widening. towards the end it was almost double at about 400 Hz shift. Also additional symptoms were the actual frequencies were rising higher and higher in the waterfall audio passband. Towards the end almost a full KC higher than intended. This of course was also controlled by a crystal. So being nearly -50 deg C it was expected.
But what started to happen next was not expected. The transmitter was set to transmit at 15 seconds after the minute. This was being controlled by the clock in the GPS system. It was slowly transmitting later and later and later, and nearly a full minute late towards the end.
Then the last transmissions heard were very strange. Longitude position of -184 degrees? It should have parked at this time at near 70 thousand feet. Then the last transmission came down, and it was a very wide shift RTTY signal probably close to 500 Hz and did not have enough time to adjust the software for a decode. in addition in the short transmission, what 10 seconds? it swept in frequency a good 400 Hz down in the waterfall.
That was the last anyone has heard from it.
Now we are asking for everyone to listen for it. Unless the electronics were actually damaged by the cold, once they thaw out, this should start to transmit again. even if the on-board batteries die it should still transmit during the day because of the solar panels. If it's still flying it may still be froze up since it's in a location where last checked it is -55 deg C, but it has to come down eventually, and then it will warm up, if it hasn't landed already. Even on the ground this can be heard, pre launch it was being heard by several stations via skip.
So we are looking for people to try to hear this run away payload. unless it was damaged, it should eventually come back to life.
Any info or questions feel free to ask.
Near Space Sciences