A stratospheric balloon of Nasa was launched yesterday, December 16 from the Antarctica's McMurdo base. The balloon raised the CREAM (Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass) experiment up to 40 kilometres high. In the experiment, coordinated by Eun Suk Seo of Maryland University, participate American universities (Maryland, Chicago, Penn State, Ohio), South Korea universities (Ewa, KyungPook) and an Italian group of Pisa, Siena, and Torino departments of the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (Infn), directed by Pier Simone Marrocchesi.
The balloon, following circulation of high winds, will sail around the ice continent for about three weeks. During this time, data of great scientific interest will be gathered. These data concern flows of charged particles of highest energy (cosmic rays) coming from Space.
The CREAM experiment was conceived in particular to investigate the origin of cosmic rays and their acceleration mechanisms: two questions that are still waiting for a definite answer, in spite of the enormous advancements carried out in this field since 1912. At that time Victor Hess, thanks to his pioneer balloon flights, was the first to show the existence of radiation coming from Space.
More information and photos relating the balloon launch are available at the web page http://www.unisi.it/fisica/cream/
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