Balloon-Borne Telescopes for Planetary Science:Imaging and Photometry

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  • Author: Eliot F. Young
Three of the four divisions in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) regularly fly large stratospheric balloon missions via NASA’s Balloon Program Office (BPO), with Planetary Science being the only exception. The purpose of this white paper is to make the case for planetary balloon missions on three fronts: the suite of scientific questions that will be addressed by missions operating in the nearspace environment; the cost savings over spacecraft or large ground-based programs that address similar science objectives; and the relative maturity of technologies that would let NASA develop diffraction-limited balloon-borne telescopes.
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