Weather Balloon Launching

It's been a couple of months in the planning but I was lucky enough to get a tour around the Met Office's balloon station on the neighbouring Larkhill Camp. This is a manned station whilst some others are automatic, which would be interesting to see in itself.

I watched as the equipment was primed and made ready for the launch. Each payload costs around £300 to buy in and launch, which I think is a lot to write off if these are being launched regulaly every day around the country. Once registered, it was a quick call to air traffic control to notify them what was about to happen and we were all set to launch. Don't forget this is a manned station, the automatic launch sites carry all these steps out automatically apparently, including balloon inflation.

They are able to control how high the payload is carried up into the atmosphere but the usually fill the balloon sufficiently to be able to carry a 1kg load. I was told that the balloon expands the higher it climbs and will eventually burst. It can expand to the size of a bus before its parachute decent.

It soon disappeared out of view but we were able to track it from the office as the radiosonde reports directly back to them. I wasn't able to get any information regarding their receiver which was a shame but we were comparing it to the tracking data on the Soundehub website and the two systems were in sync. My radiosonde eventually landed in the sea at Brighton.


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