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Colorado School of Mines Quantel Ultra laser
Mine PhD student J.Eser and his laser spent many hours riding in this bell 212 helicopter to make this mission successful. © JEM-EUSO | Colorado School of Mines

EUSO-Balloon and the aircraft GLS

EUSO-Balloon is a prototype of the JEM-EUSO detector planned for the ISS. On the night of Aug. 24/25 2014 this prototype was flown as the payload of high altitude ballon launched from the Timmins Stratospheric Balloon Facility in Ottawa, Canada. The detector reached float altitude at 38km and collected data for the duration of the planned 4 hour test. The payload was separated from the balloon at the end of the night. After descending by parachute, the detector landed in a small lake where it floated until it was retrieved intact later that day.

An aircraft based GLS station, consisting of a UV laser, UV LED, and UV Xe-Flasher, were operated from a helicopter that flew under the balloon to test the detector. This GLS generates tracks and flashes that mimic the optical signatures of high energy cosmic rays. The Mines team and in collaboration with colleagues from NASA/Marshal Flight Center and the University of Alabama at Huntsville designed and conducted this complex and succesful operation. Mines PhD student Johannes Eser and UAH MS student Matt Rodencal flew in the helicopter to operate the GLS equipment and help the pilots track the balloon.

Mines Engineering Physics majors Ryan Larson, Wesley Naslund, and Guiseppe Pasqualino contributed to the design and construction of the GLS aircraft laser system through their undergradute senior design project.

Technical Notes: We used a frequency tripled YAG laser (Quantel Ultra). It's 355 nm wavelength is close to the 357nm nitrogen fluorescence line of cosmic ray air showers. The control computer was Technologic Systems TS-5500 with a custom GPS timing module.

Credits: JEM-EUSO | Colorado School of Mines

Read more about the JEM-EUSO project