Trajectories of long duration balloons launched from McMurdo Station in Antarctica

Christopher Geach, Shaul Hanany, Chiou Yang Tan, Xin Zhi Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Columbia Scientific Ballooning Facility operates stratospheric balloon flights out of McMurdo Station in Antarctica. We use balloon trajectory data from 40 flights between 1991 and 2020 to give the first quantification of trajectory statistics. We provide the probabilities as a function of time for the payload to be between given latitudes, and we quantify the southernmost and northernmost latitudes a payload is likely to attain. We find that for a flight duration of 18 days, there is 90% probability the balloon would drift as far south as 88°S or as far north as 71°S; shorter flights are likely to experience smaller ranges in latitude. These statistics, which are available digitally in the public domain, will enable scientists planning future balloon flights to make informed decisions during both mission design and execution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number027002
JournalJournal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 21 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors. Published by SPIE under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. Distribution or reproduction of this work in whole or in part requires full attribution of the original publication, including its DOI.


  • Antarctica
  • McMurdo
  • long-duration ballooning
  • stratospheric ballooning
  • trajectories


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