South Pole Ozonesonde Launch
SOUTH POLE, ANTARCTICA– Preparation for an ozonesonde launch takes place in the Balloon Inflation Facility (BIF) and begins about 7-10 days prior to launch day. We open up the styrofoam package which contains a pump, some circuitry, and a battery. There is some important information we need to know about the pump such as the sensor’s response time, and how much air it pumps through it. The flow rate through the pump is probably the most important piece of information because we enter that into a program that calculates the ozone. For example, if there is more air flowing through it, then it is going to measure more ozone so that needs to be taken into account. All the sondes have slightly different flow rates so they all have to be checked. There are various other checks that we run though to make sure that the sonde is up to specs as well on the day of the launch. Some tests are just repeated the day of the launch.
Then we head into the “hangar” to prep the balloon (plastic balloon, in warmer months we use rubber). The balloons are filled with helium and are clipped to a set amount of weight so we know that we will get consistent rise speeds and burst altitudes. Since the plastic balloons don’t expand, most of it left empty so when it get’s to high altitude at low pressure, the helium has space to expand into.
Then after some final preparation of the ozonsonde package which may include some heating elements to keep the pump warm and getting the battery ready, we are ready to launch!
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