Topic 3c - Part 1: High altitude balloon measurements - Overview

Balloons are a unique tool for scientific research as they can stay aloft long enough in the stratosphere which is a region of the atmosphere too low for orbiting satellites, unlike sounding rockets which are too fast to obtain meaningful data. The balloons can operate at as low as a few hundred metres or up to 40km high, and are used for a wide range of experiments. The balloons are also able to stay afloat for several months to achieve the required results.

Stratospheric balloons have been used to validate satellite data. For examples CNES launched a balloon in 2005 to validate the atmospheric ozone measurements Enivisat had acquired from space. A a zero-pressure stratospheric balloon was used which stayed aloft at its ceiling altitude for about 2-and-a-half hours, and took measurements using an adapted version of the MIPAS atmospheric sounding instrument which is on board Envisat.

Featured Educators

  • Dr Philippe Cocquerez

Don’t forget you can download the video, transcript and take any quizzes available with the links on the right.

Optional Further Reading


Stratospheric balloon 2

a CNES stratospheric balloon

Stratospheric balloon 1

a CNES stratospheric balloon