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Cosmic Rays

What are Cosmic Rays?

The term “cosmic rays” is actually misleading as they are not rays at all. In the early 1900s, when cosmic rays were first discovered, they were thought to be made of electromagnetic radiation. However, within a few decades, experimental data showed that cosmic rays were actually made from pieces of atoms: protons, electrons, and atomic nuclei.

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Why Use Balloons Instead of Satellites?

Balloons are much less expensive than satellites. The least expensive satellites cost over $120 million for the equipment and launch whereas, balloon flights cost only a fraction of that while still collecting good data.

When Was the First Balloon Borne Experiment?

In 1912, Austrian physicist Victor Hess along two assistants manned a balloon at 16000 ft, discovering that ionizing radiation levels increased with altitude and thus mostly did not originate from the earth itself. Hess won a Nobel Prize in 1936 for his discovery of cosmic rays.

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