Sunday, June 04, 2006

Search and recovery

On Friday, science technicians Katie and Jeff launched an Ozone Sonde, a balloon which carries an instrument package up through the atmosphere, measuring the amount of ozone, the air temperature, and relative humidity, among other things. The sonde relays its data back to the ground with radio telemetry as it rises up to and through the stratosphere. Eventually, the balloon rises so high that it bursts, and a parachute carries it back to the ground.

Katie had been able to watch the balloon all the way until it burst, and she'd estimated the angle between the balloon and the horizon, so she was able to calculate, using some trigonometry and the altitude the sonde reported as it burst, the distance from Summit where the sonde should have fallen. We also knew which direction to ogo. These sondes are worth several hundred dollars, and it was a beautiful afternoon, so we decided to see if we could find it. To make a long story short, we did!

Katie celebrates her discovery of the ozone sonde, the small box at her feet.

This was something like finding a needle in a haystack, as a light dusting of snow had come in overnight. The balloon was white, and the box was white except for some red duct tape. The parachute was orange, but in the snow it was dificult to see:

The parachute under snow. Katie's eagle eyes saw the sonde box first- nice work Katie!


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