Saturday, October 28, 2006
The other day, Lynn got to go out with one of the
women she works with to help launch a weather
balloon. Twice a day, SOPP (SPAWAR Office of Polar
Programs (don't ask me what SPAWAR means)(formerly
known as ATS)) launces balloons to measure the
weather around Ross Island. Even in this day and
age of satellites, they still use weather balloons
to help monitor such things.
All of the monitoring comes down to this little box.
It holds all the equipment necessary to gather the
data, think about it for a while, and then send it
back to the Weather Office in McMurdo. Then the
weather forecasters can tell us that it will indeed
be windy and cold again. Not a tough forecast.
These little boxes weigh only a few ounces
and if the conditions are right, they can last for
several days before the batteries die. Once in a
while, people find the remains of the balloons and
the little monitoring boxes out on the ice, but most
of them are off lost somewhere, waiting for some
archaeological team to find them thousands of years
from now. Just like all of the styrofoam peanuts
that got away from us in a package that was sent to
us several years ago. Oops.
When the balloon is inflated and then walked out of
the Balloon Inflation Tower (Fancy name for B-182..
shack where balloons are inflated), off it goes. Lynn
was fortunate enough to get some really good pictures of
it taking off since it happens so quickly. It becomes
a little white dot in less than a minute, and then it's
gone. I was able to launch one of these balloons a couple
years ago and it's a lot of fun. A nice little boondoggle
without leaving the station.
Posted by Tom Hamann at 6:41 AM