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UMass Amherst Physics Weather Balloon

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Published on Apr 20, 2012

Astronomy 105: Weather and Our Atmosphere

The Astronomy 105 class taught by Heath Hatch of the Physics department launched a weather balloon into the atmosphere at approximately 10:15am on April 19th 2012 from the Mullins Center fields at UMass Amherst. The balloon was airborne for around two and a half hours, and it touched down safely on the roof of the VA Hospital 80 miles east in Bedford. After seeing similar videos online, we thought this would be a fun experiment to try to integrate into the classroom experience. (We are currently preparing a write-up of the procedure as well as the data analysis. Preliminary calculations give a maximum height of ~90,000ft, minimum pressure of 3kPa, and a minimum temperature of -40 degrees Celcius, however this is to be confirmed).

Electronics: Jeenode, Pressure/Temp Plug, OpenLog data logger, Go Pro HD Hero camera
Tracking: Prepaid Mobile Phone with Instamapper and Garmin GPS

Professor: Heath Hatch

Project Supervisor/TA: Physics graduate student Benjamin Ett

This project could not have been completed without the invaluable assistance and insight of Physics graduate students Dominique Cambou and Donald Blair. Special thanks also to Physics graduate student Jiahsheng Feng.

We would also like to thank undergraduate TA Amber Roberts, the Physics department for funding the project, and of course the entire Astronomy 105 class. We also extend our gratitude to the Bedford Police for their help in retrieving the package (video coming soon!), and for James at CVS for allowing me to charge my computer while analyzing the data.

After seeing the full video footage, Heath Hatch sent this text:

"Next year 4 cameras, more sensors, and we launch in the dark to catch the sunrise!"



Here's to 2013!

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