Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Weather Balloon
Name: Brenda
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
I want to know how much weight a weather balloon can hold. Also, what kind of equipment goes up with the balloon. ie: a computer system? What kind & how powerful is it? Any infrared or ultrasound equipment? radio? Is there a diferent kind of balloon that is in use for information gathering purposes now?


Replies:
Brenda,

The modern weather balloon can carry no more weight than they used to, which is, at maximum, about a pound for the standard balloon size. Larger sizes of balloons are used for special studies or research projects. The modern radiosonde uses a GPS system to indicate location and height above the ground, but continues to use a thermistor to measure temperature, a capacitive device to measure relative humidity, a solid state sensor to measure pressure, the GPS information to determine speed and direction of flight, and radio to transmit the data back to the Earth. Microprocessors (a computer) are not needed for the simple tasks performed by the radiosonde. However, the research types of balloon packages often contain microprocessors and analysers for air pollutants, radiation sensors, very accurate vapor pressure sensors, etc. These are much heavier packages (up to 30 pounds) and use much larger balloons, or for>low-level flights they use tethersondes (a large blimp-shaped balloonthat is tethered to a winch on the ground). I don't know of any balloons used for information gathering (photography, spying, etc.).

David Cook
Argonne National Laboratory


Click here to return to the Weather Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory