A Simplified Balloon Payload For Stratospheric Conductivity Measurements



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There are still many open questions about the Earth's atmosphere, and to answer them scientists need data from experimental observations. Stratospheric conductivity measurements are a vital component of global electric circuit research; however, in the twenty-first century there have been very few experiments designed to advance this area of research or investigate puzzling observations made in the decades before. To address this deficiency, this thesis aimed to design a lightweight, low-cost, balloon instrument that could measure stratospheric conductivity. The goal was to create a design that could be shared and replicated by other student groups, adding fresh experimental observations to the available data; thus, allowing scientists to improve models, explain anomalies, and explore new applications of this knowledge. To design an effective, yet simple instrument, previous balloon payloads were analyzed and modified to reduce complexity, weight, and cost. The design, consisting of two spherical conducting probes separated horizontally by a high resistivity boom was shared via ConductivityResearch.com. A prototype was constructed, weighing only 2.72 kg (not including flight train and telemetry devices), and costing just under $2000 (including balloon, helium, and flight train). Initial tests suggest that the design will be capable of measuring atmospheric conductivity and can be replicated with relative ease. The prototype will soon be fully tested during a balloon campaign in Alaska.



Weather Balloon Payload Stratosphere Conductivity Atmosphere Education Stratospheric Design Lightweight