How High Can A Weather Balloon Go?

Wouldn’t it be cool to watch a weather balloon at high altitude soar high up into the air with your classmates? The students would love coming up with their own experiment, watching their work soar higher into the sky. But, before pouncing on this tremendous project-based undertaking, you might have a few questions in mind. If nothing else, you’re curious about weather balloons. Chill, TRI Space has got you covered!

Although no one can guarantee whether a balloon will soar to a particular height, the balloons usually reach around 60,000-105,000 feet. However, it was in 2002 that the highest recorded weather balloon flight came on record, which soared to an enormous height of 173,000 feet. Specifically, the plastic that was used to make this balloon was special, having one-sixth of the thickness of a plastic grocery bag. Isn’t it amazing?

What happens after?

Balloons have a reputation for being mistaken for UFOs. However, they have been an important component of forecasting for decades and are the main source of weather data above the ground.

During an experiment, 1,600 hydrogen or helium-filled weather balloons were launched by meteorologists around the world that rose high up to into the atmosphere at approximately 1000 feet per 60 seconds.

There was a weather instrument beneath the helium balloon, which was as big as a shoebox. It’s called radiosonde, a disposable, small instrument package that sends back weather data such as wind speed, relative humidity, temperature, and pressure. Typically, as a weather balloon rises into the sky, it can last for more than two hours.

But many ponder about what happens when the balloons approach the upper atmosphere. Out of curiosity, the scientists from the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched a balloon with a radiosonde and a GoPro camera underneath.

Based on the photos, it was discovered that the weather balloon exploded at approximately 100,000 feet above the surface of the earth. It explodes after expansion because the air pressure is lower at higher altitudes.