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Balloon Flight 2001 of the HERO Engineering Test Payload

Crab_color_smoothed The spring 2001 balloon flight from the National Scientific Balloon Facility in Ft. Sumner, NM completed May 24, 2001. Three hard X-ray astronomical objects, the Crab Nebula and Pulsar (left), Cygnus X-1 (below left), and GRS 1915 (below right) were successfully imaged during the flight. The balloon reached an altitude of 128,000 ft, well above most of Earth's X-ray-absorbing atmosphere.

These images represent the first successful hard X-ray focussing optics experiment, part of the HERO High Energy Replicated Optics program, ever achieved. Here is the NASA press release story.

The pictures are smoothed false-color images combining data from both telescope/detector modules. Each are ~12.5 arcmin across with colors ranging from black/blue representing the lowest significance (<2 sigma) up to white corresponding to 7-8 sigma in the 20-45 keV hard X-ray band (for GRS 1915 the significance is about 5.9 sigma). The data have been binned at a 1 arcminute scale and smoothed with a 1 arcminute filter giving an artificial width to the sources. Without smoothing, most of the flux falls within single ~1 arcmin pixels consistent with the 3/4 arcminute measured resolution. Integration times are ~1 to 2 hours per target. The highly variable source GRS 1915 was not seen during the first 1.25 hours of observation, but is clearly there over the remaining 3/4 hour.

More information on the HERO program and an associated NASA Science News story are available.

Cygnus X-1
GRS 1915

Launch PICTURES from spring 2001
Wednesday, May 23 2001

Pre-launch preparation PICTURES from spring 2001
Friday, May 11 2001

Hero Logo Jpeg
Editor: Dr. Douglas Swartz
System Administrator: Mr. Bob Dean
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