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EUSO-Balloon (for Extreme Universe Space Observatory) is an exploratory mission designed to validate a technique for detecting ultra-high-energy cosmic rays in Earth’s atmosphere that is potentially more effective from space than from the ground. The idea is to test a prototype of an ultra-sensitive, ultra-fast optical instrument, measure ultraviolet background radiation and attempt to detect the first air showers.
The first flight of EUSO-Balloon was successfully completed on 24 August 2014 from the Timmins balloon launch base in Canada. The telescope was carried aloft under a 400,000 cubic-metre balloon to an altitude of 40 km and later splashed down in a small lake. The balloon gondola was watertight, so the instruments were not damaged. The next flight is scheduled for 2017 from the Aire-sur-Adour launch base in Southwest France.
The EUSO-Balloon mission was approved and funded by CNES, in collaboration with several French and international research laboratories. Under the responsibility of the IRAP (Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie) and conceived in collaboration with the APC (AstroParticule et Cosmologie) the LAL (Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire), the science instrument was flown in a watertight gondola partly designed by CNES.