NASA plane flew to Antarctica for a space mission

Avión de la NASA

Inspenet, November 2, 2023.

The C-130 Hercules, a NASA aircraft, landed with its equipment at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica on October 28, culminating a journey around the world with the purpose of delivering the Terahertz Galactic/Extragalactic Spectroscopic Observatory of the agency, also known as GUSTO.

This American research station, managed by the National Science Foundation, will serve as the starting point for NASA’s long-range balloon campaign in Antarctica, where the GUSTO mission will conduct a scientific balloon flight starting at next month.

C-130 Hercules: the NASA plane that flew to Antarctica

The C-130 crew has completed approximately half of the journey and during their journey, they made their first stop at Fort Cavazos, Texas on October 17, where they loaded the GUSTO observatory and its instrument kit. Throughout their journey, they made additional stops to carry out maintenance on the aircraft and allow the crew to rest.

GUSTO, as part of NASA’s Astrophysics Explorer Program, is scheduled to fly aboard a zero-pressure scientific balloon the size of a football stadium and this flight will last more than 55 days. Its mission focuses on mapping a section of the Milky Way and the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud.

To carry out this task, it will use a telescope with detectors designed to capture emission lines of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. With this instrument, the interstellar medium will be measured, which is the cosmic material found between the stars, and the life cycle of this matter will be completely monitored.

GUSTO scientific observations will be carried out via a scientific balloon launch from Antarctica, taking advantage of observation time in the air, access to astronomical objects and solar energy provided by the southern summer in the polar region.

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