Dec. 20 (UPI) -- SuperTIGER is once again flying high above the South Pole. The cosmic ray telescope launched Thursday from Williams Field at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
The SuperTIGER instrument, or Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder, was designed to detect cosmic rays, high-energy particles that stream through space. On Thursday, the instrument was carried into the upper atmosphere by a giant weather balloon.
SuperTIGER last took to the skies in December 2012 and January 2013.
"The previous flight of SuperTIGER lasted 55 days, setting a record for the longest flight of any heavy-lift scientific balloon," Robert Binns, research professor of physics at Washington University, St. Louis, said in a news release. "The time aloft translated into a long exposure, which is important because the particles we're after make up only a tiny fraction of cosmic rays."
Bad weather thwarted attempts at a second flight throughout 2017 and most of 2018.
"This is a study of stubbornness and persistence," said Brian Rauch, research assistant professor of physics at Washington University.
After finally being launched, the cosmic ray telescope is now hovering at a max height of 127,000 feet.
While aloft, SuperTIGER will look for evidence of cosmic rays originating from collections of hot, massive and short-lived stars called OB associations. Data collected by the instrument will be used to build models to predict which kinds of particle interactions produce cosmic rays.