Jul 27, 2012
Art project leads to balloon-borne science
In 2003 Giles Harrison of the meteorology department at the University of Reading, UK, became involved in an art project that attached a video camera to a weather balloon. He was intrigued by how much the camera shook as the balloon wobbled. So, being an experimental scientist, Harrison attached sensors to detect the Earth's magnetic field. This provided a measure of the atmospheric turbulence that the balloon was experiencing.
Since then Harrison's "Pandora's box" of balloon-borne sensors has gone from strength to strength. It has helped with projects from detecting ash from the Icelandic volcano during the flight ban to measuring charge on dust plumes from the Sahara. Ultimately this nifty box of tricks could include optical detectors to help firm up cloud measurements or high-energy particle detectors to check on space weather.
Listen to Giles to find out more.