Weather Balloon Flight Pictures
Weather balloon flights measuring ozone and water vapor are launched about every two weeks at NOAA. I designed and built many of the parts that go into these flights, including the pressure-based valve cutting system and the digital frostpoint hygrometer instrument. I launch them with my boss at a filling station near the small town of Marshall, CO (just south of Boulder). After launching, we track balloons down using wireless GPS reception to retrieve the instruments.
Altitude: 9,520 ft
This low-altitude picture shows a shopping center near Superior, Colorado.
Altitude: 78,956 ft
This picture (actually from the balloon's descent) shows many clouds, including developing thunderheads.
Altitude: 96,295 ft
This shot was taken near the top of the flight. It shows the snowcapped mountain tops near Middle Park and Georgetown. The curvature of the earth is visible on the horizon.
Path Traveled by the Balloon
Here is a map showing the path traveled by the balloon. I made this after the flight by writing a Perl script to emulate the behavior of our GPS, transmitting NMEA strings with the flight data to this mapping software. Nowadays we just make a Google Earth KML file for mapping flights.
The Balloon Camera
This is the camera used to take these balloon pictures. It is a 3.2 MP Olympus digital camera that I modified to take pictures on an interval (using wires soldered to the shutter contacts and an AVR microcontroller programmed to trigger a mosfet transistor). We packaged it tightly in a foam box, powered and heated by industrial sulfer lithium dioxide batteries.
Full Galleries at NOAA's WebsiteBalloon Flight Gallery 1
Balloon Flight Gallery 2