How Strateole 2 came about
The Strateole 2 project was conceived with the LMD dynamic meteorology laboratory at CNRS, the French national scientific research centre, in 2006 as a follow-on to the large-scale French-U.S. Strateole-Vorcore climate research project in the Antarctic. Analysis of data from Strateole-Vorcore opened new avenues for scientific investigation, not in the polar regions but in equatorial regions.
Strateole 2 precursors
Four previous projects conducted scientific survey campaigns at different latitudes using superpressure balloons:
- STRATEOLE-VORCORE in the Antarctic (McMurdo), flying 27 balloons from September 2005 to February 2006
- AMMA-Driftsondes in the tropics from Africa (Niger) to the West Indies, in September-October 2006
- Pre-Concordiasi in equatorial regions, circling the planet from the Seychelles from February to May 2010
- CONCORDIASI in the Antarctic (McMurdo), flying 19 balloons from September 2010 to February 2011
The capabilities of the balloons, flight systems and control centre used for these campaigns have been progressively enhanced to make the Strateole 2 mission possible. They now have the ability to carry more instruments, supply more power, transmit more data and operate effectively in the tough conditions of the equatorial lower stratosphere.
Strateole 2 flight plan
The first instruments specifically for Strateole 2 were conceived in 2010. Project development started in 2014 and got the official go-ahead mid-2016. The Seychelles were chosen as the balloon launch site on the basis of a comparative multicriteria study of nine potential equatorial sites. A key factor in this choice was the probability of maintaining the flights for long enough in the required equatorial band for the mission, between 15° North and 20° South.
The Strateole 2 project schedule is:
- 2018-2019 validation campaign: 6 balloons launched during the boreal winter to validate the technologies developed by CNES and research laboratories.
- First science campaign in 2020-2021: 20 balloons launched between mid-October and mid-December 2020.
- Second science campaign in 2023-2024: 20 balloons launched between mid-October and mid-December 2023.