HiWind Project in Sweden

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Scientific Objective:

image of HiWind teams
Left: Design, engineering and fabrication team. Right: Deployment and launch team.
  • To measure summer time polar cap thermospheric neutral winds
  • To study the ionosphere and thermosphere interaction in the polar cap during the summer
  • To understand the Joule heating in the high latitude region which has a great impact on thermosphere global circulation
  • To provide a better understanding of the energy transfer process from the solar wind to magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere
  • To greatly impact space weather research.

Instrument Design:

  • HiWind is a balloon borne Fabry-Perot interferometer
  • It will measure the thermospheric winds by monitoring the neutral wind induced Doppler shift in the airglow emission O 630 nm
  • The O 630 nm emission is mostly from the thermosphere.

Scientific Payload Information:

  • Weight 1600lb (not including CSBF components)
  • Height 164 inch
  • Sun pointing during the day and north pointing during the night
  • HiWind payload status graphed data (not active until balloon is launched).

Ground Based Collaboration:

  • HiWind is in flight over many ground based incoherent scatter radar sites
  • Collaboration with ground based observation will be a key component for scientific research
  • Ground based radars can provide ionosphere parameters, which can be combined with HiWind neutral wind data for ionosphere and thermosphere interaction study
  • Arrangement with ground based PI has been made.


  • HiWind is the first balloon-borne FPI to measure the daytime thermospheric winds
  • Thermospheric winds are critically needed for space weather research
  • HiWind payload has modest pointing requirements and with a modest weight.

The project is supported by NASA grant NNX08AV35G from Geospace Science Program (part of Heliophysics Research program). For more information please contact principal investigator Qian Wu (qwu@ucar.edu ).

image of HiWind instrument
HiWind instrument during final flight preparations in Kiruna, Sweden, June, 2011. Solar panels shown are continuously positioned to face the sun during flight to provide power for the instrument and shade critical areas of the payload from intense solar radiation. A large radiator at the rear of the payload allows precise thermal control of sensitive components inside the instrument. Pointing information is provided via differential GPS and a sun detector developed by NASA to drive a motorized rotator between the payload and the balloon. The balloon, rotator, and recovery parachute attach to the triangular fitting shown at the top of the payload.
image of HiWind payload
Above left: HiWind payload during final assembly in Integration Hall at Kiruna, Sweden, June, 2011. Pink insulation is covered by reflective space blankets during flight to provide the instrument protection from the extreme thermal environment that exists at the 140,000 foot flight altitude. Four light port tubes near the top of the instrument allow light measurements to be taken in four directions simultaneously to allow wind velocity and direction to be determined. The measurements are oriented upward from the horizon to look at wind velocities well above HiWind's flight altitude.
Above right: HiWind Sweden instrument design.
image of HiWind recovery site
HiWind recovery site.
image of HiWind Balloon
HiWind launch preparation.
image of Etalon
image of HiWind westward flight path
Detailed map of HiWind westward flight path.