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Object name Long-Duration Balloon Inflation
Caption When fully inflated with helium, scientific balloons will reach a diameter of almost 600 feet and can carry a payload weighing as much as 8,000 pounds. They can fly to an altitude of around 30 miles for periods of up to 31 days. For some payloads this is the equivalent of traveling on the space shuttle or a satellite, but at a fraction of the expense. During the austral summer a nearly circular pattern of wind establishes itself over the Antarctic continent. This means that the flight path of the balloon will circumnavigate the continent and land almost back where it began. Another advantage of Antarctic balloon flight is the continuous sunshine, allowing the balloon to maintain a constant temperature and therefore keep a stable altitude.
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