LDB - the long duration balloon project.
Apparently, rockets are expensive. Balloons are cheap, even if you have to travel to Antarctica to launch them. The LDB program launches astro-physics experiments into near-space and uses the circumpolar atmospheric circulation to set them orbiting the continent. The payloads go way up, collect their data for a couple of weeks, and after a few laps around the continent land via parachute. (Don't call it a crash, please...) Sounds like rocket science, right? Yep, its a NASA program and cheaper than rockets.
This photo was taken with a telephoto just outside the launch site's 3km safety circle. The payload is barely visible hanging from the crane on the left. For scale, the two big buildings on the right are about four stories tall. I just happened to be out for a skate ski the morning of the launch!