Weather Balloon Launch into the Stratosphere

January 21, 2011

ThinBlueLinePanorama PrePostLaunchPhoto

Image submitted by Alex Baker and Chris Rose  
Summary Author: Alex Baker and Chris Rose; Jim Foster

The photo above (top) shows a view from the stratosphere taken with a camera attached to a weather balloon, approximately 21 mi (35 km) over central England. The balloon was launched (below left) from Ashbourne, Derbyshire on December 17, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. and landed in Strethall, Cambridgeshire a little past noon the same day -- total flight time was 2 hours and 50 minutes. It was retrieved later in the day (lower right). In the mid-latitudes, the stratosphere is cloud free since there's too little water vapor available to initiate cloud formation. Weather, or sounding, balloons typically gather data on temperature, pressure and humidity at different levels of the atmosphere. This one was just a trial launch so no data was actually collected. Note that the azure blue film clinging to Earth in the top photo is the densest portion of Earth's atmosphere -- the troposphere. The bright sun-like object at right center is a camera artifact (lens flare). For more about this flight please see the edited video.

Photo details: For the panorama at top stills were stitched from a Creative Vado HD. For the pre and post launch photos, a Panasonic Lumix TZ6 was used (video still and photo respectively).