Montana State University

MSU grad part of NASA mission scheduled to launch from Sweden

June 5, 2013 -- MSU News Service

Courtney Peck is in Sweden for the launch of a huge balloon that’s part of a NASA solar mission. Behind Peck is the Sunrise II instrument (white with black solar panels) that the balloon will carry high into the sky. The solar panels power all the systems on the telescope. (Photo courtesy of the Montana Space Grant Consortium).    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – A Montana State University graduate who used to fly experiments high above Montana is now in Sweden to monitor a high-altitude balloon that is scheduled to launch in the next day or two and fly five or six days over the North Pole.

The balloon -- part of a NASA mission called “Sunrise II” -- will carry an instrument to collect high-resolution information from the sun, said Angela Des Jardins, director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium. Courtney Peck from Sidney, a 2012 MSU graduate in physics, will monitor the flight from the ground.

The balloon was scheduled to launch at 11 p.m. Mountain time June 5, but it was delayed because of the weather, Des Jardins said. When the balloon does launch, the public can view it and follow the balloon on streaming video at . Des Jardins will give updates via Tweets and Facebook. Both will appear on the MSGC Web page at

Peck spent four years working with high-altitude balloons when she was an undergraduate involved with the MSGC’s BOREALIS program. She credited both for preparing her for this latest opportunity.

“Obviously, BOREALIS and MSCG were extensively helpful throughout my undergraduate career in getting me to a place where I have incredible opportunities such as this one,” Peck said.

Peck is now attending graduate school at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a Graduate Research Fellowship she received from the National Science Foundation.

The launch, when it occurs, will be the second launch of Sunrise, Des Jardins said. The first flight occurred in 2009 and lasted six days.  Sunrise II, like the first mission, will carry a NASA/Max Plank Institute instrument that analyzes solar convection, dynamics and magnetic fields.

Other institutions involved in the mission are The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Kiepenheuer-Institut fur Sonnenphysik, the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colo., the Lockheed-Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias.







Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or