Monday, July 25, 2011

Amber Light For Jean-Louis Etienne A Possible Monday Start

Jean Louis Etienne (Photo by Francis Latreille Generali)

After arriving a week ago in Spitsbergen, the Generali Arctic Observer team has been hard at work preparing Jean-Louis Etienne’s balloon in record time. This evening, the balloonist will sleep for the first time aboard his gondola and will be testing all the onboard equipment. According to the expedition’s weather expert, a favourable weather window looks like offering him an opportunity to take off on Easter Monday.

Longyearbyen, 2nd April 2010: The preparations are accelerating for Jean-Louis Etienne’s team. Initially, he was to go on stand-by on Thursday 8th April.  But according to the team’s weather expert, there is a good weather window coming up on Monday 5th April. “Everything is ready and we’re waiting for the green light, explained Jean-Louis Etienne. For the time being, we’ve moved to amber, but if it goes green, we need to seize this opportunity.  It is fairly rare to get a favourable weather window. However, we need to be patient. There are two important conditions required for the flight. On the one hand, the conditions high up need to be favourable to allow us to head northwards. And then, secondly, they need to be favourable on he ground, in order to inflate the balloon, there must not be too much wind. For the moment it’s looking good at high altitude, but not on the ground. So we’re watching to see what happens.”
Ready to take off…
Fortunately for Jean-Louis Etienne, his team has done a really good job to make sure everything is ready by Friday evening. “I am counting on a very strong team. I’ve been thinking about this for a year and a half now. All the little details that I thought about are falling into place. Watching all this happen in front of my eyes helps me relax. Ideally, everything will be ready by this evening and then tomorrow morning, after the test tonight, we’ll be able to see if everything is running smoothly.”
For the first time, Jean-Louis Etienne will be sleeping aboard his gondola to carry out a test under real conditions. “I’m going to spend the night on board to see how comfortable it is and to get to know my way around. I’ll be looking at how the heating works in relation to the size of the space. But the real goal of this test is above all to fit the sensors to be able to take magnetic and CO2 measurements, which will be done on the outside, and then checking to see whether all the data is relayed back. That just is not possible inside the shed where we are set up for the moment.”  Before that, they will have to weigh the gondola with everything in place to know the exact weight at take-off. “Tomorrow morning, if the data transmission goes well, we’ll be taking the gondola to the take-off area. All that remains to be done then is to fit the helium valve to the balloon.”
Reminder: Jean-Louis Etienne is preparing an attempt to carry out the first balloon flight over the North Pole, from Spitsbergen to Alaska. During his flight, he will be carrying out a number of scientific measurements (CO2, magnetic field, tropospheric ozone and suspended particles) in order to “take the planet’s pulse.”  The measurements carried out by Jean-Louis Etienne should allow the scientific community to understand more aboutclimate change by analysing real time data, which is rare or non-existent from these regions, using modelling systems.

Sumber : Challeng and Adventure, Jumat, 2 April 2010

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