May 1, 2010

Harmless Weather Instrument

I got to get out of the office and go photograph a weather balloon launch. The National Weather Service sends up a balloon twice a day, every day, at 3 am and 3 pm from Fairbanks (one of 92 U.S. locations). We needed a photo of a weather balloon and its radiosonde for one of our tutorials. It was a little tricky to capture since the balloon rises about 1000 ft/min, and the radiosonde is on a 90-foot tether. [So, a photo of the balloon and parachute for the radiosonde will have to do.]
The radiosonde transmits weather data (temp, pressure, humidity, wind speed) back to a receiver near the FAI airport at 1 Hz during its flight. There's actually a pretty involved circuit board with sensors in the radiosonde box, so it also includes a self-addressed bag to send the thing back. If you see a small styrofoam box lying out in a field, check it out!

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