BLAST (short for Balloon-borne, Large Aperture, Sub-millimeter Telescope) was designed to gather information on how our universe originated and evolved. Launched on a balloon to an altitude of 35 km, where air is rarefied and the influence of the atmosphere is negligible, it will collect the very faint sub-millimeter light from thousands of the earliest galaxies that formed in the remote past of our universe.
The director travels with his brother, astrophysicist Mark Devlin, and the other team members all the way to an Arctic base in Sweden, where the instrument will be launched to be recovered in Northern Canada a few days later. With a lively style he documents the team’s feelings and tension. The stakes are high. The outcome of years and years of painstaking work spent designing each and every items and detail will be determined over a very short period of time.
But unforeseen events unfold one after the other. Unfavourable weather conditions force the team to delay the launch several times - and when it finally does take place, the result is a total disaster. Without giving up hope, the team tries again 18 months later from the Antarctic ice of Mc Murdo base, a remote science research station. Will they succeed? More problems will have to be overcome, but eventually BLAST will reward them with unexpected data that energize the researchers, including many graduate students.
Scientific purpose aside, the film offers insight into the motivations of passionate scientists seeking to answer man’s questions about the origin of the Universe.