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balloon-lab - 2002 Yerkes Winter Institute Up Up and Away...

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2002 Yerkes Winter Institute Up Up and Away on Beautiful Balloons: Scaling up from Party Favors to Scientific Payloads How many helium filled balloons would it take to lift you? To lift a big telescope? Take a guess for each and record your guesses in your lab notebook. This lab will explore how good your guesses were, and how scientists determine the right size balloon to use for their experiments. Ozone Balloon Launch South Pole Introduction: Helium filled balloons are commonly seen at festivities and celebrations. In addition to being used for entertainment purposes helium filled balloons play an important role in many areas of scientific research. For example “small” six to eight foot diameter weather balloons are frequently launched to acquire many different types of metrological data. At the South Pole for example balloons are launched to monitor the amount of ozone in the atmosphere (See photo). These balloons provide information that other methods such as satellite remote sensing cannot, e.g., the amount of ozone at specific altitudes. The beauty of a helium balloon as a launch vehicle is that it is simple, has no moving parts, and is relatively inexpensive. They can also go places where humans might not want to. Typical weather balloons contain a small radio transmitter, which is used to send the data back to the researchers. This is called telemetry: The process or practice of obtaining measurements in one place and relaying them for recording or display to a point at a distance; the transmission of measurements by the apparatus making them (Oxford English Dictionary online http://www.oed.com ). Much bigger balloons are used for bigger research projects. Researchers at the University of Chicago use the simple balloon for some of the most sophisticated experiments in modern physics. For example, Professor Stephan Meyer flew a telescope named TopHat over Antarctica in the austral summer of 2000-2001. This telescope was designed to look at light from the infant universe, microwave and infrared photons that had traveled for about 14 billion years and hold secrets of the physics of the early universe. As the name suggests, the TopHat telescope sat on top of the balloon rather than hanging underneath it. The reason for this funny geometry is that the experiment had to be so sensitive that the thin fabric of the balloon itself would have gotten in the way and been a big source of error (the small balloon in the photo was detached after launch). TopHat Launch McMurdo, Antarctica Center for Cosmological Physics 2002 Yerkes Winter Institute Balloon Laboratory - 1
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2002 Yerkes Winter Institute Why do helium filled balloons rise? Or Archimedes’ Principle F b F g Floating in air is not a common experience for humans but floating in water is.
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