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Download by parachute : retrieval of assets from high altitude balloons.

Sirks, E.L. and Clark, P. and Massey, R.J. and Benton, S.J. and Brown, A.M. and Damaren, C.J. and Eifler, T. and Fraisse, A.A. and Frenk, C. and Funk, M. and Galloway, M.N. and Gill, A. and Hartley, J.W. and Holder, B. and Huff, E.M. and Jauzac, M. and Jones, W.C. and Lagattuta, D. and Leung, J.S.-Y. and Li, L. and Luu, T.V.T. and McCleary, J. and Nagy, J.M. and Netterfield, C.B. and Redmond, S. and Rhodes, J.D. and Romualdez, L.J. and Schmoll, J. and Shaaban, M.M. and Tam, S.-I. (2020) 'Download by parachute : retrieval of assets from high altitude balloons.', Journal of instrumentation., 15 (05). P05014.


We present a publicly-available toolkit of flight-proven hardware and software to retrieve 5 TB of data or small physical samples from a stratospheric balloon platform. Before launch, a capsule is attached to the balloon, and rises with it. Upon remote command, the capsule is released and descends via parachute, continuously transmitting its location. Software to predict the trajectory can be used to select a safe but accessible landing site. We dropped two such capsules from the SUPERBIT telescope, in September 2019. The capsules took ~37 minutes to descend from ~30 km altitude. They drifted 32 km and 19 km horizontally, but landed within 300 m and 600 m of their predicted landing sites. We found them easily, and successfully recovered the data. We welcome interest from other balloon teams for whom the technology would be useful.

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Publisher statement:© 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd on behalf of Sissa Medialab. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.
Date accepted:03 April 2020
Date deposited:10 June 2020
Date of first online publication:22 May 2020
Date first made open access:10 June 2020

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