The UK effort was not a test of or experiment in geoengineering itself. Rather, the stated goal was to evaluate a low-cost, controllable, recoverable balloon system, according to details obtained by MIT Technology Review.
Remarkably, the system has been named – SATAN. It’s an acronym for ‘Stratospheric Aerosol Transport and Nucleation’.
Andrew Lockley, an independent researcher previously affiliated with University College London, led the effort last autumn, working with European Astrotech, a company that does engineering and design work for high-altitude balloons and space propulsion systems.
His paper about his SATAN experiments has been submitted but has not yet been published. When he discovered his paper had been “leaked” Lockley wrote an email to MIT Technology Review:
“Leakers be damned! I’ve tried to follow the straight and narrow path and wait for the judgment day of peer review, but it appears a colleague has been led astray by diabolical temptation. There’s a special place in hell for those who leak their colleagues’ work, tormented by ever-burning sulphur.”
Lockley’s balloons were equipped with instruments that could track flight paths and monitor environmental conditions. They also included several safety features designed to prevent the balloons from landing while still being filled with potentially dangerous gases.