In a typical year, ARM expects to conduct approximately six to eight tethered balloon system (TBS) missions, using the ARM TBS baseline instruments, with each mission lasting two weeks. Requests for missions will be made through TBS calls, which will be held near the beginning of the calendar year or through a call for the ARM Mobile Facility (AMF). At this time, TBS missions may only be requested at ARM observatories identified in calls for TBS proposals or as part of AMF proposals.
A standard TBS mission involves a single tethered balloon carrying baseline ARM instruments. In most locations, the balloon must remain in clear air and below the base of nearby clouds. TBS flights are restricted to daytime operations, and an individual flight typically lasts from a few hours to approximately eight hours.
Proposals should provide details regarding mission parameter requirements that may impact science goals. Mission parameters that should be considered include:
- the flight location
- season or seasons
- time of day
- desired altitude
- the number and duration of flights required
- desired meteorological conditions during the flight
- whether fixed-altitude flights or profiles would be more appropriate for their science goals.
Proposals for flights of non-baseline ARM instruments or guest instruments will also be considered but will need to be reviewed in consideration of payload constraints.
In addition, requests may be made to fly guest instruments as part of previously approved TBS missions through the proposal process for small campaigns. Such requests must be submitted in sufficient time for review and integration, but a minimum of four months prior to the campaign depending on the complexity of the instrument and the timing relative to the quarterly review cycle.