Weather and the LDB

December 14th, 2007 andrea

windchartldb2
There will be a launch of a giant balloon from Williams Field soon, called the LDB (long-duration balloon) project supporting several scientific payloads http://www.nsbf.nasa.gov/antarctica/ice0708.htm. Weather conditions on both the ground and in the upper atmosphere need to be perfect for the balloon, and this has so far not been the case so the launch has been delayed.

Here’s the latest update from Phil Austin

“Currently, while all three payloads are ready to fly, we have been waiting for the upper atmospheric winds where the balloons float (5 mB, approx 120,000 feet) to become established in the normal austral summer anti-cyclonic pattern. These winds give us the predictable orbit around the continent, one of the major reasons for ballooning in the Antarctic. We had hoped for a first launch of the CREAM payload in the early days of December so they could have the maximum possible number of days aloft. However, similar to last season, the winds seem slow to set up this year, and just in the past few days are showing favorable signs (see wind diagrams for Dec 10 & 15).

Now it’s a waiting game for the local weather out here at the LDB launch pad, which needs to be essentially calm from ground level up through 5,000 feet, and predictable for the launch activity duration (anywhere from 6 to 20 hours). Right now we have around 20 knots at ground level, and 35-40 knots at 500 feet – great for kites, but not so good for balloons. These conditions are expected to last through the weekend. Stay tuned…”

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Kevin Yuill at Willie Field

December 14th, 2007 andrea

Kevin Yuill
Today Tia and I visited the weather tower at Williams Field to do a video interview with the totally cool weather observer there, Kevin Yuill (who also happens to be one of the only Bermudians to ever get to Antarctica). Although the day started out beautiful, sunny and warm, while we were there, the winds picked up and blowing snow became a potential hazard to the planes landing there. Rapidly changing weather is a way of life here and weather observation and prediction is a widely practiced and respected skill.

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