Friday, October 26, 2007

Weather Balloons - Don't Mistake Them for UFO's

Every day at 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. New Zealand Time, the meteorology team releases a balloon into the atmosphere to measure pressure, temperature, wind, and humidity. Today, I got to go with the met team and release that balloon.

The balloon itself is filled with helium until it can lift a 500 gram weight. While the balloon is being filled, the met team prepares the module that is attached to the balloon to record and transmit data. This preparation consists of syncing it to a computer and activating the battery for 4 minutes with water. Apparently, they used to use 9 volt batteries but the battery would die way to early. Once the balloon is released, the antanae on the module connects to 12 satellites to report back data every 2 seconds.

I should mention that in winter they only release one balloon per day. However, with the extra flight activity in the summer, they release two per day to get more current and accurate readings.

Click here for some photos.

1 comment:

  1. I have seen them launch those balloons from the airport in Adelaide. They do look like ufo's, haha.