Solar balloon wins NASA award

A new day is dawning, has announced, with a sunny space balloon rising to new heights:

The “High Energy Replicated Optics to Explore the Sun” project, or HEROES, is a joint effort to fly a powerful X-ray telescope high into Earth’s atmosphere. During the day, it will study solar flares, providing new insight into the way the sun’s magnetic energy functions. At night, the telescope’s eye will turn outward to the stars, observing a variety of astrophysical targets.

Proposed by a combined team of solar scientists and astrophysicists at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the balloon-borne imager is one of only two HOPE award selections in 2012.

The scientific balloon carrying HEROES is expected to launch in the fall of 2013, from the Ft. Sumner, N.M., test site managed by the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility of Palestine, Texas. HEROES is expected to fly to an altitude of approximately 25 miles, well into Earth’s stratosphere.