Science in Christian Perspective



Weather Balloons In Varied Sizes and Colors Used by Weathermen

From: JASA 7 (March 1955): 13.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following release from the Information Services Office, Air Weather Service, United States Air Force, Washington 25, D. C. should dispel many of the flying saucers stories.

Often mistaken for flying saucers, approximately 800 balloons per day are released in the United States to measure weather elements aloft. Balloon observations are taken four times a day from almost every government and military weather station.

The smallest balloon is approximately one and onehalf feet in diameter and is used to measure the heights of clouds (ceiling) above an airport. These balloons are either black or red and expand to a diameter of two to three feet before bursting at an altitude of 15,000 to 20,000 feet.

Two types are released daily by weather stations to obtain data used in computing the winds aloft. The smaller balloon measures two feet in diameter and expands to a diameter of three and one-half feet before bursting. The larger balloon is three and onehalf feet in diameter and usually bursts when the balloon has expanded to a diameter of six and onehalf feet. This occurs at from 45,000 to 50,000 feet in the air. They both are colored white, red or black and when released at night carry a small white light for tracking purposes.

Uncolored translucent balloons used to carry radiosondes (a radio transmitter which sends pressure, humidity and temperature data) measures six feet in diameter before release and expand to a diameter of 26 feet before bursting about 80,000 feet. The radiosonder and red parachute are attached to the balloon by a 100-foot line.

At frequent intervals larger balloons are released to obtain data for specialized atmospheric research purposes. These balloons are generally referred to as "Skyhook" balloons. The skyhook balloon is plastic and non-expandable. It is designed to carry a payload of 80 pounds at least as high as 100,000 feet. The balloon measures 73 feet in diameter and is 129 feet long.