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Driftsonde Visuals & Multimedia Gallery

September 2006

Driftsonde Launch
2.8 MB - Windows Media Player required. Click here or on image to view the video.

This video shows the launch of the first driftsonde, which took place on August 28 from Zinder, Niger.

Driftsonde Animation
17 MB - Flash Player required. Click here or on image to view the animation.

This animation shows the launch of a driftsonde from Niger, Africa. As the balloon rises toward the lower air pressure of the stratosphere, it fills out into a circular shape. It carries its payload west from Africa over the Atlantic Ocean, driven by upper-level winds at its cruising altitude of about 65,000 feet. The gondola, controlled by scientists on the ground, then releases one of its instrument packages, called a dropsonde, into a type of storm system known as an easterly wave. The instrument package, which descends slowly with a parachute, sends measurements back to the gondola twice every second. The package has sensors to measure temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction. The gondola transmits the information to a satellite, which then relays it to scientists on the ground. For more information about the driftsondes, see the news release and fact sheet.


For higher-resolution versions of the animation and video, please contact David Hosansky, 303-497-8611.
Driftsonde prep Technicians
At the airport in Zinder, Niger, technicians from the French space agency (CNES) prepare for the historic launch on August 28 of the first driftsonde used for weather research. At left, the team inflates the large CNES balloon. At right, technicians carry the NCAR-designed gondola, which holds more than 30 sets of weather instruments. The white box at bottom includes communications equipment. (Photos by Terry Hock, NCAR.)
Driftsonde Map
This map shows the tracks of the first four driftsondes launched from Zinder, Niger (far right side) in August and September. Dots show where dropsondes were deployed.
Balloon launch
This sunrise launch in Wyoming was part of driftsonde testing during the summer of 2006. The innovative NCAR-designed driftsonde package, which includes a gondola and weather instruments that descend by parachute, was first used for research in Africa in August 2006 with a ballooning system designed by the French space agency, CNES. Click here or on image to enlarge. (©UCAR, photo by Joe VanAndel.)
This driftsonde's balloon dwarfs the aircraft and automobile nearby as researchers stretch out the tether lines holding its gondola and communications devices during testing in Oregon in 2004. Built to cruise at 65,000-70,000 feet, the first operational driftsonde took flight at Zinder, Niger, on August 28, with more to follow. Click here or on the image to enlarge. (Photo by Terry Hock, NCAR.)
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