In this episode, we find out that balloons are about more than fun, they are involved in some very serious science.
Tumble got to participate in a weather balloon launch with Dr. Gary Morris, a atmospheric scientist at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.
And we invited a very enthusiastic Brownie Troop full of Tumble fans – the Trinity Second Grade Brownie Troop – to learn along with us!
It turns out a lot goes on between the ground where we stand and the outer edges of our atmosphere, and balloons are one of the best tools we have to gather that information.
The Only Thing That Can Travel Higher Than a Weather Balloon is A Rocket Ship
Check out this great infographic by Overlook Horizon Inc. – a non-profit educational public charity organization focused on high altitude balloon science.
In the picture you can see that weather balloons can reach up to 32 kilometers! That is just at the edge of our atmosphere and almost twice as high as a jet or airplane can fly .
They also produce wonderful videos, we have shared a couple in this blog post. In this video "What is a High Altitude Balloon?", we learn about their history and see some amazing footage from a camera strapped to a balloon.
Watch as a weather balloon peers out of the edges of our planet’s atmosphere in the video below:
Weather Balloons Help Us Learn About More Than Just the Weather
Balloons help scientists learn about some really big things.The balloon that’s launching in this episode gathered data about different kinds of air pollution - like ozone, which comes from cars, power plants, and factories.
But Dr. Morris has done a lot of different things weather balloons. Including studying hurricanes and volcanoes.
Thousands of Balloons Are Launched Every Day
Across the world weather balloons are released simultaneously from almost 900 locations twice a day! This includes 92 released by the National Weather Service in the US and its territories. The balloon flights last for around 2 hours, can drift as far as 125 miles away, and rise up to over 100,000 ft. (about 20 miles) in the atmosphere!
Want to follow along, you can track them HERE.
If You Are Interested in Launching Your Own? You Can!
From buying the balloons, to tracking their path, to recording the experience this video is a very comprehensive how to:
Pressure is a Strange Thing: As The Balloon Rises Up in the Air, It Gets So Big It Pops!
We didn’t get to see our balloon pop, but this video of another weather balloon exploding is pretty awesome! (It happens about 2:30 min into the video.)
Do you have any ideas for how weather balloons could be used? Or experiments you want to try with them? Let us know here.