The first thing I learned to do here, almost two months ago, was to send off a weather balloon. We send them up at 10am and 10pm every day, and they usually are up in the air for around 1.5 hours before they pop at 20-30 kilometers. The radiosondes, the instrument we attach to the balloon, collect height, pressure, temperature and humidity data.
To inflate the balloons we walk over to the BIF—balloon inflation facility—where we store the balloons, helium and the sondes. We program a sonde on a computer over there, and attach it to a large 350g balloon that we inflate with helium.
On the BIF are two large doors so that we can get the gigantic balloon outside to be released. I am very small and had an extremely hard time opening and closing these doors until they fixed them recently.
Outside, we steer the balloon clear of any buildings around us and release it up, up, and away! Once they’ve gone, we don’t recover them at all—they just get sent up into the sky until they pop and who knows where they land. They relay all the info back to us via radio/satellite, which is how we are able to collect the data and transmit it around the world.