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How to Launch a Balloon to the Stratosphere

May 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Weather balloons used to be science experiments reserved for those with the money to do the research. New technology has not only made the balloon cheaper, but the technology to capture images and data has also lowered in price. Here is the lowdown on how you launch a weather balloon into the stratosphere to collect data.

Payload Construction

You will need an arm to hold the payload that you intend to attach to your high altitude weather balloon, but there are some weight considerations to take into account. In the US, you are restricted to a payload that does not exceed 12 pounds. That twelve pounds must be distributed across the box your payload is housed within, the data logger your payload uses to capture data, and any other attachments you decide to add.

Balloon Setup

Begin in a flat and wide-open space, with all of the components of your balloon kit spread out on a table. Assemble your payload, securing the weather balloon camera to the arm where it can get a good view as it ascends. Also keep in mind that the size of your balloon will affect the volume of gas it will hold, so larger balloons are likely to travel a longer distance and reach a greater height.

Launch Site

The site that you choose should be free from objects that will impede your flight path. Power lines, trees and other obstructions can cause your balloon to catch on its flight path, stopping the journey entirely. Also be sure that you launch on a clear day with low wind speeds. Follow the flight path of your balloon carefully with your GPS unit, and be prepared to make a trek to retrieve the payload.

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