Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ESBO DS (European Stratospheric Balloon Observatory Design Study)
Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-08-31
The ESBO DS (European Stratospheric Balloon Observatory – Design Study) project is working to realise this step and to make the excellent observing conditions at an altitude of 30 to 40 km available to a broad scientific community. The explicit goal of the endeavour is to create a European research infrastructure featuring regular flights, exchangeable instruments, and open access to observation time. If successful, ESBO DS will eventually reduce the cost of cutting-edge astronomical observations considerably and enable new insights into the formation of stars, planetary systems, and life. In practice, the work on the 3-year pilot project is focusing on two immediate objectives:
1. On the development and construction of a prototype gondola and telescope, which shall perform technology tests as well as deliver first scientific results during its maiden flight with a newly developed UV-instrument.
2. On the development of a strategy for the long-term establishment and operation of the observatory – including the study of the technical feasibility of balloon flights with larger telescopes, particularly of the 5 m aperture class for far infrared observations.
Work performed on the infrastructure concept study:
- Science needs for the mid- and long-term to be addressed by the infrastructure were reviewed and defined;
- The feasibility and benefit of innovative infrastructure technologies, including super pressure balloons, novel flight trajectories, and soft landing systems were studied for the infrastructure;
- Particularly for the balloon gondola / bus, subsystems that could be scaled & built in a modular fashion were studied;
- Preliminary technical system studies of the mid- and long-term flight systems (carrying a 1.5 m aperture telescope for near infrared applications and a 5 m aperture telescope for far infrared applications, respectively) were carried out to identify critical technologies, mass and power drivers, and different infrastructure options.
Work performed on the prototype development:
- Detailed requirements for the prototype were derived from both the technology demonstration perspective as well as the perspective of a later scientific exploitation of the prototype (primarily for studying variable hot compact stars in the galactic plane);
- Performance simulators for several of the prototype components were developed, including the newly-developed UV-instrument, the secondary visible light instrument (as part of the image stabilization system), and the star tracker for guiding;
- A thermal simulation model for the prototype at float altitude (~40 km ) was developed to support the design of the thermal control system;
- A concept for the closed-loop Image Stabilization System (one of the technologies to be demonstrated) was developed;
- A concept for a modular and scalable balloon gondola (one of the technologies to be demonstrated) was developed, design of the prototype gondola started;
- Other scalable balloon service subsystems were identified and concepts for the application on the STUDIO prototype developed, particularly including the gondola pointing system and the power supply system; design of these subsystems for STUDIO started;
- Necessary pre-development activities to implement the infrastructure were identified;
- Technologies and scalable subsystems to be implemented and demonstrated on the prototype were defined;
- The most attractive infrastructure option was identified and chosen for further study in the second half of the project;
- The design of the telescope and optical system for the prototype was concluded;
- The design of most other subsystems for the prototype was concluded.