Friday, February 24, 2017

Balloon Launch for the Earth Science Classes at the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center

Friday, February 24th was partly spent launching two weather balloons for my school's earth science class. Currently the students are in the meteorology unit and a balloon launch and UAVSonde flight were perfect activities. One launch took place in the late morning and the second one in the early afternoon. The payload for this launch was a bag of student-made paper airplanes. Students put their names on the planes they made. Contact information for the school was printed on the airplane in case it was found again. A second, smaller balloon acted as the altitude switch that would open the bag carrying the paper airplanes.

The first launch took place in clear skies. So the students watched the balloon climb for about three minutes, or when it reached an altitude of 3,600 feet AGL. The balloon was observed drifting in the southeast direction, indicating winds were from the northwest.
The morning Earth Science class getting ready to start the countdown.
The second launch took place after puffy cumulus clouds had appeared. Students observed that the weather balloon disappeared in a cloud 2 minutes 45 seconds after launch. This length of time indicated the cloud base was at an altitude of 3,300 feet AGL. Students saw the balloon again about 10 minutes after launch, or at 12,000 feet AGL. This time the balloon had moved further north and heading generally in that direction. The second observation showed students that the winds were blowing in a different direction at that altitude.

The second balloon on its way to a cumulus cloud

Following the balloon launches, I sent up a UAVSonde and collected weather data. Here are the data from those flights.

Morning UAVSonde
Altitude: 2,426 feet
Temperature: 36 *F
Relative Humidity: too cold to measure
Pressure: 916.9 mb

Morning UAVSonde
Altitude: 2,916 feet
Temperature: 29 *F
Relative Humidity: too cold to measure
Pressure: 913.1 mb

Afternoon UAVSonde
Altitude: 2,588 feet
Temperature: 43 *F
Relative Humidity: 18%
Pressure: 918 mb

Afternoon UAVSonde
Altitude: 2,818 feet
Relative Humidity: 24%
Pressure: 912.4 mb

This was a fun pair of launches and reinforced how great this would be to do for a living and not just a hobby.

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