Tracking

Once the balloon is released, you can only watch. If you are using WSPR, it is time to start your tracking software to get the wsprnet.org data and send it to APRS.fi. You can also go to http://lu7aa.org/ and enter the data about your launch. If you are using APRS, it will show up on APRS.fi. Those websites will give you real time data and the track the balloon is following.

Knowing where the balloon will be in a day or two is very interesting. To do that, the HYSPLIT program at https://www.ready.noaa.gov/HYSPLIT_traj.php. The wonderful thing is that this program is written specifically for superpressure balloons. You need to put in the location and altitude and specify how many days prediction you want and how many hours between points. Click run and wait a bit. It will take a little time to generate the map and then you can see what is likely. You can check that against the storms shown on windy.com and have an idea about whether or not you are in trouble.

If you are interested in atmospheric data, the Univerisity of Wyoming has data that is interesting. They have isobar charts for high altitude. They can be found at http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/uamap.shtml. They also have a program that was written to predict the path of bursing balloons. That program can be interesting if you want to look at the pressure where the balloon is floating. It prints out the altitude vs. pressure in the area and you can use gps altitude to interpolate the pressure where the balloon is. It will also give you enough information to know the altitude of the tropopause where your balloon is. You may be below on in the tropopause so it could be interesting to study.

You can also use WSPRnet.org to see where your balloon is located. Put the call in and it will show who is receiving and where the balloon is located. It will not give you a track so you can only know the location at that time.

At times the balloon will be very fast and other times very slow. It will depend very much on what the jet stream is doing. Information about the jet stream can be found at https://www.netweather.tv/charts-and-data/jetstream. When in the jet stream, the speed can be over 200 miles per hour and when not in, it can be just a few miles per hour and even go in circles.

There are differences in the seasons. The wind is most convoluted in the summer when the sun puts more energy in the northern hemisphere. In the winter, the jet stream is closer to linear and it can carry the balloon around the world more quickly. Either way it is more interesting but there is some gratification is going around the world.

Published by WB6TOU

Retired chemical engineer

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