Balloons Offer Near-Space Access for Space Biology Researchers

Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 21:20 in Earth & Climate

Balloons are often associated with meteorological studies—gauging weather conditions such as temperature, pressure and humidity in the Earth’s atmosphere. But for NASA and other scientists, they also serve as a stepping-stone for other critical space research. More recently, biological sciences researchers have started using balloons as an experimentation platform. In the context of NASA’s planned Artemis and Mars missions, access to “near space” can advance scientists’ understanding of how biological organisms respond to extreme environments analogous to those found on the Moon and Mars. High-altitude and scientific balloons provide experimental access to various levels of rarefied air, as far up as the stratosphere (above 99% of the atmosphere). This enables researchers to gain initial data about the effects of higher levels of radiation and other factors on biological systems in a more cost-effective and timely manner than if they were to wait for an opportunity to run their experiments on the International Space...

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