Weather Forecasting Tools - The radiosonde

This Monday, the weather is expected to deliver gusty winds to Roswell, NM thanks to a cold front. The wind for the launch of the 30 mcf balloon must be 2 mph or less.

Meteorologist Don Day delivered the news of a 24 hour delay to Felix Baumgartner and the entire launch crew. Instead of flying Monday as scheduled, our attempt to reach 120,000 feet will probably take place Tuesday.

Forecast details:

A strong cold front with sharply colder temperatures, low clouds and some drizzle will be moving through eastern New Mexico over the weekend. While the weather will greatly improve on Monday with clearing skies and warmer temperatures, wind speeds are expected to be above acceptable levels for a safe launch on Monday morning. Wind speeds are forecast to be between (8 - 16 km/h) 5 - 10 mph with winds near the balloon top at (16 - 24 km/h) 10 to 15 mph, as Don Day explains. Baumgartner will be using the largest manned balloon in history: 550 feet/ 168 meters high at the start with a volume of 30 million cubic feet/ 850.000 cubic meters!

“The good news is that we usually have a day or two after this type of cold front moves through where the weather can be favorable for a balloon launch“, Don Day says.

A new addition to forecasting for Roswell launch site - The Radiosonde:

•The small radiosonde (about 1/2 pound) dangles under the balloon (looks like an oversized birthday balloon). Don Day says using local radiosonde data is better than using the sounding from El Paso or Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our own radiosonde will offer very specific data to Roswell since it will be released from the same launch location for Felix.

.•The radiosonde takes measurements of air temperature, dew point, altitude, wind speed/direction, and atmospheric pressure.

.•The goal is to examine the profile of the atmosphere all the way to 130,000 feet.

.•The temperature profile in the stratosphere is not expected to change much between now and launch time, which makes forecasting Felix’s landing zone even better.

.The best indicator we have that Felix will break the speed of sound is from radiosonde data. It profiles the atmosphere, most importantly the temperature which is what NAA official observer, Brian Utley, wants to examine. Speed of sound is determined by temperature. The warmer it is, the faster Felix would have to go to break the speed of sound. Basically, the colder the better to ensure a supersonic fall. Actual telemetry can be compared to the radiosonde data in mission control to identify when Felix breaks the speed of sound too.

Brian says, “The atmosphere is a living element….we want to know its status. You might say we’re taking the pulse of the atmosphere just before we launch the balloon.”

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