Antarctica can be a double-edged sword for astronomers: conditions there are some of the best in the world for observing the heavens, but the harshness of the place can be hard on equipment.
The gleaming telescope was carried into the upper edge of the atmosphere on a helium balloon the size of a football field. The telescope worked perfectly, and researchers collected tantalizing astronomical data on some of the galaxy's most exotic celestial objects.
The team launched the X-Calibur telescope on December 29, carried aloft on one of NASA's super pressure long-duration helium balloons. The balloon swelled as it floated up to about 125,000 feet, above roughly 99 percent of the Earth's atmosphere, and started collecting data.