Tethered Balloon Systems

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SPEC has designed and built a Tethered Balloon System (TBS) for cloud and aerosol research. The instrument package is suspended below the helium-filled balloon. The balloons are custom-built by the Blimpworks™ and contain either 43 m3 or 74 m3 of helium, depending on payload requirements, which range from 15 to 25 kg and are lofted up to heights of 2 km. The tether contains copper conductors to supply electrical power to the instrument package, which can stay aloft for up to 24 hours at a time. Data are recorded at the instrument package and also transmitted via WiFi to the surface in real time to facilitate monitoring and control of the mission. The TBS has been successfully deployed at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard and at the South Pole.

Instruments that have been Deployed on the TBS:

  • Meteorological Package: Temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and direction
  • GPS position
  • Miniature Cloud Particle Imager (CPI)
  • Miniature Fast Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe (FFSSP)
  • 4-p radiometer to measure actinic flux at two wavelengths
  • Cryogenic Frost-point hygrometer (Vömel et al. 2007)
  • Miniature Cloud Condensation Counter
  • Ice Nuclei Filter Sampler


Solid Model of the Miniature CPI

Example of CPI images recorded during a vertical profile
of a mixed-phase cloud at the South Pole

Example of (left) CPI images and (right) time series of measurements
from a 4-p radiometer in a mixed-phase cloud at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard.