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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

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ARCADE 2006 Flight

Here are some pictures from the 2006 flight campaign.

2006 Campaign

Tiny Tim picks up 2006 payload The "Tiny Tim" launch vehicle picks up the ARCADE 2006 payload and rolls out of the high bay in Palestine, TX. A protective lid covers the dewar, which contains 1800 liters of liquid helium at a temperature of -452 F. The V-shaped reflective shield visible above the dewar will block emission from the balloon and flight train during observations.
2006 Balloon Inflation Inflating the balloon prior to the 2006 launch. The 2006 payload flew on a 29 million cubic foot helium balloon.
Balloon goes vertical Midway through balloon inflation, the balloon moves to the upright position. The two fill lines are visible on either side.
2006 Balloon Layout Balloon layout prior to the 2006 launch. The thin plastic film of the balloon main body is inside the protective pink pastic cover. Tiny Tim and the payload are barely visible in the distance.
ARCADE team on the flight line Some of the ARCADE team pose on the flight line prior to launch. Left to right: Dale Fixsen, Dan Oegerle, Luke Lowe, Phil Lubin, Michele Limon (back), Jane Cornett, Mike Seiffert (kneeling), Sarah Fixsen, Ed Wollack, Jack Singal, and Paul Mirel.
2006 Balloon Layout Tiny Tim and the ARCADE payload at launch. The parachute connecting the payload to the balloon is clearly visible.

In-Flight Video

The 2006 payload included a video camera. ARCADE uses a novel design with cryogenic antennas operating only a few degrees above absolute zero in an exposed environment with no protective windows between the cold antennas and the atmosphere holding the balloon up. Boiloff helium gas from the main tank flows past the antennas to prevent the air from freezing onto the antennas. Video footage taken during the 2006 flight demonstrates that the design works: ARCADE took data for 4 hours with no visible condensation on the antennas.

ARCADE payload
The image above shows a drawing of the ARCADE payload. The instrument is mounted inside a large (5 feet in diameter, 8 feet tall) bucket dewar, much like a giant Thermos bottle. The antennas attach to the top of the dewar and are tilted to point 30 degrees from vertical. A carousel covers the top and can rotate to allow each antenna in turn to view the sky through a sky port. A video camera attached to the reflective shield can view the antennas from its vantage point above and to the side of the dewar mouth.

Sky port and antennas
The image above was taken on the ground prior to flight It shows the dewar mouth from the approximate vantage point of the video camera. The sky point is oriented to allow one cluster of antennas to view the sky.

In-flight video still
The images above were taken during flight, approximately two hours apart. Each shows the dewar mouth with the sky port open to the largest (3 GHz) antenna. The corrugations inside the antenna are clearly visible in both images, and show no evidence for solid nitrogen "snow" collecting inside the antenna. The ARCADE design works!