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May 31, 2003

A lovely photo of BOB
Posted by Teresa at 11:25 AM *

It’s from Cassiopeia, the magazine of the Canadian Astronomical Society/Socie9te9 Canadienne d’Astronomie (CASCA).

BOB is short for “Big Orange Balloon”, a.k.a. “1/3-scale model multi-tethered helium-filled aerostat”. It’s part of the design & testing phase of the Canadian Large Adaptive Reflector (LAR) Project, which in turn is part of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project.

Radio Astronomy Heavy Breathing Alert:
Over the past several years an international initiative has been underway to develop the technology required to construct a giant radio telescope array with collecting area of one million square metres—100 times the collecting area of the Very Large Array. The Square Kilometre Array will have spatial resolution of millarcseconds, a field of view of a square degree, and the ability to simultaneously image large portions of the Universe in both solid angle and redshift. With such an increase in capability over current instrumentation, the cold universe will be revealed—from before the dawn of galaxies up to the present day—and provide an instrument for addressing some of the most compelling questions in modern astrophysics. It will be possible to trace the origins of structure, measure the conditions of the pre-galactic universe through the era of reionization, and trace the interstellar medium of galaxies and the intergalactic medium through the subsequent cosmic evolution of galaxies and large-scale structure.
The LAR Project is a clever piece of design. The Canadians are aiming for a low-cost large-diameter radio wave reflector, made out of lightweight steel panels that will be mounted on a relatively simple structure sitting directly on ground. That’s as opposed to reflectors like the Very Large Array’s dishes, ponderously and capital-intensively pivoting on their single-stemmed mounts.
The focus platform will be a lightweight tethered structure held up at the proper height by a great big helium balloon; thus BOB, the balloon’s prototype. Here’s a large clear illustration of the proposed design.
Comments on A lovely photo of BOB:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2003, 10:47 PM:

I hope that blue thing still on the truck is his pipe.

#2 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2003, 12:24 AM:

Teresa, if you like neat balloons, you should go look at what JP Aerospace is doing. They bill themselves as "America's Other Space Program" and they've spent the last several years learning to fly balloons and balloon platforms -- big lattice structures supported by up to several dozen balloons -- to 100,000 feet. Eventually they want to launch rockets to orbit from the platforms, but meanwhile, they do more high-altitude balloon flights per year than NASA or anyone else. Plus they carry video cameras (They have a video taken by a Sony camcorder falling from 80,000 feet all the way to the ground after its balloon burst) and other neat things.

JP also runs the neatest "kids science" program around -- PongSat. Kids can build any science experiment or device they can think of that will fit *inside* a standard pingpong ball (with a few restrictions, like no flammables) and JP will put it on one of their balloon flights and take it to the edge of space, then return it to them. So far they've flown something like 900 PongSats and gotten about 3000 kids to actually do their very own space experiments.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2003, 02:36 AM:

Ah. Avram beat me to it.

#4 ::: Barbara ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2003, 01:53 AM:

Teresa, everyone in Arizona knows that BOB stands for Bank One Ballpark--home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The big orange ball plays at America West Arena, and it didn't even go to the playoffs this year.

#5 ::: mohammad ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2003, 04:14 PM:

cars nature

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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