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Name: Greg
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 12/10/2002


Question:
The idea is to launch Crosby's ring into the atmosphere from a weather balloon. Although Crosby now resides in Los Angeles, he is willing to launch it from any position (locally, nationally, or internationally). My brother and I were thinking of making the entire event a "re-bachelor" party for Crosby. His last one was a lot of fun.

What I would like to know is WHERE is the best place to launch the balloon (with ring attached)? Crosby's goals are to maximize the distance the balloon travels. In your previous posting, you mentioned that a balloon can travel anywhere between 0 and 250 miles. Is there a way to extend this distance (by catching a jet stream or something like that)? Do you know of any way that the balloon fails (i.e. leakage, popping, etc.)? We would like to reinforce any deficiencies to the balloon itself. Finally, I am currently at a loss for where to acquire said weather balloon. Do you have a good source to recommend?


Replies:
Greg,

This is certainly one of the more unusual requests that I have received!

Weather balloons are available from a company called Vaisala. You can find them on the Internet at www.vaisala.com; their address and phone number is on the site (at three locations; Woburn MA, Plain City OH, and Boulder CO). The balloons are usually sold in quantity, but you could ask them if a smaller quantity could be purchased.

You would need some helium, for filling the balloon. You do not want to overfill it (Vaisala can provide directions), as it would pop at too low an altitude. Leaks are not common until it gets to a high altitude, where it is stretched very thin; not much can be done to reinforce the balloon. You need to be gentle with the balloon, as introducing skin oil to it or rubbing off too much of the powdery outside coating can cause it to burst prematurely.

As far as the length of flight of the balloon, that is not easily controlled. You could look at a current weather map on the Internet (www.weather.com or www.intellicast.com) to see what the wind direction and speed is where you would be launching the balloon. It is possible that the balloon could get up into a jet stream, if it is nearby; see one of the web sites for a jet stream map. You might want to plan your launch for when the conditions are optimum.

Oh, and see if you can launch the balloon when the winds would bring it over Chicago (where I live); I will take the ring to a pawn shop and cash it in!

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


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