Thursday, February 5, 2009

Balloon Launches and Air Samples

Temperature: -38.6C
Wind Chill: -52.6C
Wind Speed: 8.9 kts

I'm sending this blog out to a class of kindergartners out in Louisville, Colorado. Hello guys and girls from Fireside Elementary!! Hope you are having fun learning about a couple very cold places on earth.

This entry is to show a little of what we do while we are down here. Once a week, this time of year, Cully, who I work with down here, and I will send a balloon up in the air that has equipment on it to measure the ozone layer. What we are interested in is the air from 15 to 25 kilometers above us here at the South Pole. At certain times of the year, there will be less ozone than others, and the instruments tell us what those amounts are.

Here is a shot of Cully getting the instrument ready to attach to the balloon. We have to make sure the instrument is working before we can collect information.

Cully has the balloon inflated

and we are ready to attach the measuring instrument to it. We have to take it outside for a couple minutes, again, to see that it is working...and even down here, Cully needs to look both ways before going anywhere!

Once everything is attached and ready to go...we let it go!

In the winter time, we will send up a different kind of balloon that will work better in the cold.

The information coming back from the balloon during its flight will tell us how the ozone amounts are changing, and this is important because the ozone layer is protecting us, and we want to make sure it stays up there to keep protecting us!

One of the other things we do down here is collect air samples to see how clean the air is. Antarctica has the cleanest air in the world, so we look at the air here, and compare it to other places around the world.

Even though we need to collect this important information, there is usually enough time to enjoy the fact that we spend every day in the snow!

Fireside Elementary, I hope you boys and girls have a fun day!!

Marc (Capt. Splash)

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