I want to know how much weight a weather balloon can hold.
Also, what kind of equipment goes up with the balloon.
ie: a computer system? What kind & how powerful is it?
Any infrared or ultrasound equipment? radio?
Is there a diferent kind of balloon that is in use for information
gathering purposes now?
The modern weather balloon can carry no more weight than they used to,
which is, at maximum, about a pound for the standard balloon size.
Larger sizes of balloons are used for special studies or research
projects. The modern radiosonde uses a GPS system to indicate
location and height above the ground, but continues to use a thermistor
to measure temperature, a capacitive device to measure relative
humidity, a solid state sensor to measure pressure, the GPS
information to determine speed and direction of flight, and radio to
transmit the data back to the Earth. Microprocessors (a computer)
are not needed for the simple tasks performed by the radiosonde.
However, the research types of balloon packages often contain
microprocessors and analysers for air pollutants, radiation sensors,
very accurate vapor pressure sensors, etc. These are much heavier
packages (up to 30 pounds) and use much larger balloons, or for>low-level flights they use tethersondes (a large blimp-shaped balloonthat is tethered to a winch on the ground). I don't know of any
balloons used for information gathering (photography, spying, etc.).
Argonne National Laboratory
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Update: June 2012