EPOD 20th - High Altitude Balloon Burst

September 07, 2020

High Altitude Balloon Burst

We’re celebrating 20 years of Earth Science Picture of the Day during the month of September! Today’s photo features a popular EPOD from the past. Thanks to all of our followers (on the blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) for supporting us. Thanks also to all of you who’ve submitted your photos. We’re most appreciative. This EPOD was originally published September 19, 2013.

Photographer: Kostas Tamateas
Summary Author: Kostas Tamateas

September 2013 Viewer's Choice The photo above shows the remains of a high altitude balloon just after it burst far above the Thessalian plain of northern Greece. This was Greece's first suborbital photography project. The project that launched the balloon is referred to as SlaRos (Tesla, Ikaros); the mission is called Stratonauts. Mount Olympus is beneath the clouds at top left – to the left of the balloon is the Aegean Sea.

The balloon reached an altitude of 111,296 ft (33, 923 m) before bursting. All such high altitude balloons burst when the atmospheric air pressure is too low to contain the expanding volume of the gas within the balloon. This balloon’s capsule was retrieved intact and will be re-used for a future launch. Note that since there are too few air molecules at altitudes above about 60,000 ft (18,288 m) to effectively scatter sunlight, the sky appears essentially black. Photo taken at 12:29 UTC on August 26, 2013.

Photo Details: The picture is a 1280 x 720 frame from a High Definition, GoPro Hero3 camera, configured to 50 fps (frames per second).