OOMG member Dr. Joe Zambon tested a balloon-carried radiosonde with the help of NCSU’s Dr. Matt Parker from the roof of Jordan Hall. After filling the large balloon with helium, Joe and Matt zip-tied it closed, then attached the unwinder.
Between the balloon and the radiosonde, the unwinder gently spools out 10 m of string so that the radiosonde is far enough below the balloon to get a clear signal from GPS satellites.
The lightweight radiosonde connects to the unwinder and bears an antenna for satellite and ground communication and an instrument that takes measurements as it travels through the atmosphere.
Joe will be launching a dozen radiosondes from the deck of the R/V Neil Armstrong during the January 2018 PEACH research cruise to collect data on the atmosphere while other instruments are collecting data on the ocean. Ocean-atmosphere interactions are critical to understanding ocean conditions. The radiosonde will record conditions such as humidity, temperature, and pressure as it rises. A small battery in the radiosonde enables it to transmit data back to the ground in real time. The balloon may carry the instrument through the troposphere (~ 17 km above the Earth’s surface), eventually bursting due to low atmospheric pressure.