PoGOLite landed!

After a pioneering circumpolar journey lasting almost 14 days, the PoGOLite flight ended on the Siberian tundra. The gondola was cut from the balloon in the early hours of 26th July and touched down by parachute approximately 1 hour later. The gondola landed near, but luckily not in, a lake (this seems to be a recurring theme for us…). The landing site was close to the Siberian city of Norilsk which houses a large nickel and copper mine, as well as good infrastructure for a helicopter-based recovery of the gondola.

PoGOLite flight path 2013
The path followed by PoGOLite during the ~14 day long flight.

Photographs provided by the Russian recovery team show that the gondola is in good shape. Recovery operations are still on-going with the ultimate aim of returning the gondola to Stockholm once customs issues are solved – hopefully during the next couple of weeks. While it was hoped that PoGOLite would make a full circumpolar transit and return to Scandinavia, the stratospheric winds pushed the gondola too far to the North. The Esrange pilots did a fantastic job in keeping the balloon over dry land, but ultimately it would not have been possible to prevent crossing over the Kara Sea and on to the Arctic Ocean. It was considered too risky to attempt a landing on Greenland, so the decision to terminate the flight was taken. We are now looking forward to the gondola returning to Stockholm since we need to access the solid-state disks on-board in order to complete the scientific analysis of data.

More on what we learned during the flight will follow in a later post…

PoGOLite on the Siberian tundra.
What goes up must come down - PoGOLite on the Siberian tundra.

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