For more than 200 years, scientists have been using weather balloons to track patterns in the upper atmosphere of the planet. These predictions have helped countries prepare for natural disasters, and create weather response plans for local events. Weather balloons are also beloved by hobbyists and teachers, who launch amateur science experiments to track weather patterns in the sky. Here is what any lay person needs to know before launching a balloon into the stratosphere.
There usually aren’t regulations to be concerned with when you launch a weather balloon kit, but you do need to be aware of some safety precautions. If you use hydrogen, which is highly flammable, you will need someone trained in handling the gas. You also need to make sure that your balloon’s path is clear from any potential flight paths into or out of an airport.
Predicting the Flight Path
You can use a GPS datalogger to record many statistics from your balloon’s flight path. A logger will help visualize the flight path the balloon travelled, and can be part of your retrieval system for the balloon. The onboard computer can record data like atmospheric pressure, altitude, and moisture in the air. These readings are easy to retrieve in a spreadsheet format.
A weather balloon camera, a datalogger and a small housing unit to keep the payload safe is about all you need to launch. Your equipment should stay minimal, and you should screw everything into the platform you are using to launch from. Once the payload is secure, you are ready for a safe launch!