weather balloon

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weather balloon,

lighter-than-air craft without a propulsion system, lifted by inflation of one or more containers with a gas lighter than air or with heated air. During flight, altitude may be gained by discarding ballast (e.g.
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 used in the measurement and evaluation of mostly upper atmospheric conditions (see atmosphereatmosphere
[Gr.,=sphere of air], the mixture of gases surrounding a celestial body with sufficient gravity to maintain it. Although some details about the atmospheres of other planets and satellites are known, only the earth's atmosphere has been well studied, the science of
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). Information may be gathered during the vertical ascent of the balloon through the atmosphere or during its motions once it has reached a predetermined maximum altitude. Today, atmospheric information is most often gathered by height-finding radar, remote sensing by earth-orbiting or stationary satellites, and aircraft instruments, with weather balloons augmenting the data. Helium, which is less dense than air (see buoyancybuoyancy
, upward force exerted by a fluid on any body immersed in it. Buoyant force can be explained in terms of Archimedes' principle.
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), is usually used to inflate weather balloons. A pilot balloon is a small balloon (diameter c.1 m/39 in.) whose ascent is followed visually to obtain data for the computation of the speed and direction of winds at different altitudes. A smaller ceiling balloon is used to determine the altitude of cloud bases. A much larger, teardrop-shaped balloon is used to carry a radiosonderadiosonde
, group of instruments for simultaneous measurement and radio transmission of meteorological data, including temperature, pressure, and humidity of the atmosphere.
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 aloft. The balloon expands as it rises, usually reaching an altitude of at least 90,000 ft (27,400 m) before it bursts. A small parachute lowers the instruments to the ground. Teardrop-shaped balloons are also used for horizontal sounding of the atmosphere. Atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity information may be sent by radio from a balloon; monitoring of its movement provides information about winds at its flight level. Techniques also have been developed whereby many horizontal sounding balloons can be monitored by earth-orbiting satellitessatellite, artificial,
object constructed by humans and placed in orbit around the earth or other celestial body (see also space probe). The satellite is lifted from the earth's surface by a rocket and, once placed in orbit, maintains its motion without further rocket propulsion.
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 that relay information to earth-based stations. The tetroon is a tetrahedral balloon used for horizontal sounding. It was developed to withstand the extremely low pressures of high-altitude flight; the straight seals joining its four triangular faces are stronger than the curved seals of the more traditionally shaped balloons. Tetroons have been used extensively in tracing low-level atmospheric currents by following their movement with radar; they have thus increased the meteorologist's understanding of atmospheric turbulence, low-level vertical motions, and air pollution dispersion.
References in periodicals archive ?
The results showed that NEXRAD was not only capable of tracking insect migration patterns, but it was also superior to the older scanning X-band system in offering a much larger detection range and an ability to determine the direction and speed of insect migration flights without need of weather balloons.
The search giant's balloon manufacturing manager, Pam Desrochers said that the time limit is much longer than most weather balloons that travel at the stratospheric heights that Loon balloons will achieve, Cnet reports.
AMAJOR art installation involving at least 600 tethered weather balloons should turn Hadrian's Wall into a visually stunning night-time attraction this summer.
In a competition to find 10 red weather balloons placed across the United States, MIT researchers used online social media and a simple reward system to recruit balloon-searchers in the 36 hours preceding the contest.
These four ships sailed the North Atlantic for a month at a time, taking metrological readings and releasing weather balloons.
Its hydrogen drives fuel cells for back-up, remote, and portable power, fills inflatable devices, such as weather balloons, and can replace costly, hard-to-handle, and high pressure K-Cylinders.
For the first time, Earth scientists have used remotely controlled weather balloons to measure levels of gases from an erupting volcano.
This space, normally explored by weather balloons, encompasses everything above the commercial flying zone and below the realm where satellites orbit the Earth.
Meteorologists all over the world launch weather balloons twice every day.
Space Data integrates ever-Shrinking electronics, industrial weather balloons and Global Positioning System technology to provide continuous coverage and ensure precise system timing and location information.
When the late Larry Walters soared to 16,000 feet over Southern California in a lawn chair lifted by 42 weather balloons in 1982, he had no idea his feat would pass into the national consciousness.