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At the Frontiers of Feasibility

  Documentary 2024

An international consortium led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research is planning the flight of the most capable solar observatory ever to leave the Earth's surface. Carried by a stratospheric balloon, the observatory Sunrise III is set to fly from Sweden to Canada in the summer of 2022. Free from disturbances of the Earth's atmosphere, under conditions resembling space, it is expected to continuously observe the solar surface with unprecedented precision during its five-day flight. The anticipated dataset will influence astrophysics for decades to come.


The film follows the Sunrise III team during the final sixteen months before the flight. The essential modules are already constructed and are receiving their finishing touches in the clean rooms of the Göttingen Institute. The scientific instruments from partners in Japan and Spain are on their way. Likewise, the gondola developed in the USA is en route. Now they must assemble the entire system, test it, and transport it to Esrange Space Center north of the Arctic Circle. There, they have about eight weeks to get the observatory ready for its flight into the stratosphere.


The Sunrise documentary focusses on the work of the people who make such a research mission possible - long before any scientific results are available. Additionally, the film shows that the collective pursuit of technical and scientific excellence can also be influenced by unpredictable factors.

Germany, Sweden 2024, 94 min, German/English (English Subbed)

A film by Johannes Kohout and Janek Totaro

with a soundtrack by Dominic "Rokusai" Scharff

in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

Founded by the Max Planck Foundation

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