Allen Franklin Jordan

Computer Programmer, Mathematician



Balloon Prediction

Balloon Prediction is a software tool developed for engineers and scientists who need to know the approximate trajectory and landing zone of a balloon payload launched at a specific time and location. It can download real-time wind data or use forecast models to generate an estimated trajectory for current, historical, or future launches.

Disclaimer: The availability of this tool to the general public does not condone attempts to recover balloon payloads that land on private property, government property, or hazardous locations. Predicted trajectories and landing zones are only approximate, therefore active tracking is required to accurately locate launched payloads.

I wrote this program in C# using Visual Studio 2008 with the GMap.NET mapping library.

Prediction Map

Map Screenshot

The resulting balloon trajectory prediction is plotted on a map in the program. Wind data is retrieved from NFS soundings hosted at the University of Wyoming (real-time) or the NOAA GFS model (forecasts), then used in the prediction algorithm. Processing is offloaded to a worker thread to keep the GUI responsive.

Program Options

Options Screenshot

The options screen allows for many program settings to be changed. Launch location, predicted rise rate, and burst altitude may be adjusted to fine tune the predictions. Depending on the selected date/hour, UWYO/NWS actual winds (current or past date) or GFS Model forecast data (up to 7.5 days ahead) may be chosen as input.

Data Site Selection

Site Selection Screenshot

This dialog allows for different UWYO/NWS wind data sites to be selected (the default uses whatever site is closest to the launch latitude/longitude).

Google Earth KML

Google Earth KML Screenshot

The calculated balloon trajectory may be opened as a KML input to Google Earth, giving a fancy 3D path.

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