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Name: Dana
Status: other
Age:  30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

We have found a weather balloon and would like to know if it is possible to determine its launch site or the sites that are most likely. What is the average and maximum distance they will travel?


It is unusual to find a balloon and/or package. If the measurement package was with the balloon, it may say on it where the balloon was launched from. However, there are a large number of weather packages launched on balloons in the United States without this kind of information on them during scientific field experiments and even routinely by large monitoring programs, such as the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurements program in Oklahoma and Kansas. The average distance of travel of a balloon is approximately 40 miles, but depending on the wind speed and direction at different heights of the atmosphere where the balloon travels, the balloon may go zero to 250 miles. During one field experiment that I was involved in, the balloon went one direction for a while and then when higher up, reversed direction and passed back over us going the opposite way (this is unusual, but does happen).

I would be interested to know if there is anything written on the balloon package, especially a manufacturer's name (like Vaisala, VIZ, AIR) and any numbers; packages usually have serial or "run" numbers on them. That information, combined with where you found the package would allow us to identify to whom the package was sold and therefore possibly where it came from.

If you want, please forward this information to me at and we will

try to track it down.

David Cook
Argonne National Laboratory

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