Weather balloon to be launched Friday

By Michael Urbanec

DeKALB — The Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences will launch a weather balloon 1 p.m. Friday at the Davis Hall quad.

Victor Gensini, Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences assistant professor, said this will be the first weather balloon released by NIU, but they plan on releasing more balloons in the future.

“Weather balloons are essential tools in weather forecasting, carrying equipment that measures and transmits atmospheric data, such as atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed,” according to a Tuesday Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences press release.

The balloon will be of aid to Gensini, who is researching severe storms.

Gensini said the balloon launch is a multi-tiered effort between Research Innovation and Partnerships, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences.

“We [will] launch weather balloons from on and near campus,” Gensini said. “Every day weather balloons go up around the world taking measurements to help forecast and beat out computer models.”

Gensini said when the balloon launches it will be about five feet in diameter, but once it makes it higher into the atmosphere, it will grow to twelve feet in diameter. It will then pop and come back down to the ground using a parachute.

The balloon is expected to burst after about 90 minutes, according to the National Weather Service webpage.

Students will also be given the opportunity to work with this equipment and the data it generates, according to the press release.

“Not only will students get to set up and launch the balloon, but they will get to watch the data come in real time from the instrumentation,” Gensini said. “Once we get that data from the instrumentation, we can bring it up and analyze it, and students can solve basically what they would be seeing in a textbook, but it would be with real data they captured themselves.”