NASA’s Planetary Science Division is seeking community input on the potential planetary science that could be achieved from a stratospheric balloon observatory. A workshop to discuss platform capabilities, recent balloon missions for other NASA SMD divisions, and potential science was held at NASA GRC in January 2012.  Efforts to date have resulted in over 40 concepts for planetary science that this platform may perform.

Click the Balloon Workshop link above to be directed to the balloon workshop website and all the associated presentations and materials.


The resulting mission concepts can be found here:

Additional input and comments can be provided at any time through the LPI website or directly by e-mail.


Upcoming/Recent Events

COMPASS Concept Design Session, Starting October 22nd.


Concept Study:

HQ initiated a study in August, 2012 to evaluate the workshop concept ideas and systematically affirm science traceability to the Planetary Science’s Decadal Survey.  Based on the achievable science, the study will develop high level requirements for the science payload, support systems, and mission operations (e.g. aperture, pointing stability, durations, etc.) and provide a recommendation for a baseline system to study in more detail to understand potential costs and risks. The recommended baseline concept will be evaluated by a team of balloon and engineering experts at NASA Glenn’s COMPASS facility.  The collaborative engineering team will develop a point design and concept of operations to provide the required cost and risk assessments.  The status and results of the study will be presented to the planetary community through various venues including DPS, AGU and the 2012 LPSC.



While NASA is assessing the applicability of a balloon based platform to scientifically contribute and address key questions as posed by the decadal survey, the team will continue to provide status to the community and, more importantly, seek input from the science community.  The teams plans to status the community and seek input at the Assessment Group meetings, science conferences, and updates to this website.  The team also encourages the community to participate as possible.  Please look for us with posters, papers, and/or workshops at:

  • The Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) Meeting October 14th -19th
    The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting December 3rd – 7th
    Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) January 9th – 10th
    Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG)  January 14th – 16th
    The IEEE Aerospace Conference March 2nd – 9th
    The Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) March 18th – 22nd

Documentation and Final Reports

  Interim Status – Science Traceability presented August 18, 2012
  Preliminary Mission Concepts / Traceability to Decadal Survey

The concept study final report will be completed soon, presented at LPSC, and posted here when available.


Reference Material

Atmospheric Effects.ppt