S69 Atmospheric Profiles on a Budget Using Surplus Radiosondes and Theodolites

Sunday, 6 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Jonathan Rivas, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and K. Brewer, M. D. Benoit, and D. T. Conlee

While complete radiosonde ground systems have become much more affordable in recent years (such as the iMet 3150 system), upper air sounding still remains out-of-reach for many groups and institutions. One possibility is to use inexpensive equipment such as the various Vaisala RS-80 sondes that are available from surplus sources. As a part of the Student Operational ADRAD Project (SOAP) summer undergraduate research program, Texas A&M students have obtained a Vaisala PP-11 radiosonde processor and have interfaced it with off-the-shelf radios. The system is being tested with various radio and antenna combinations for maximum range, and with both iMet-1 and RS-80 sondes in the balloon “train” for data comparison. We report on both radiosonde range results and data comparisons with the iMet system.

One issue with surplus RS-80 sondes is that the older versions used the now–defunct Omega navigation system for winds. However, building on previous summer SOAP research, we are using pilot balloon theodolites with the RS-80 system to acquire wind data when cloud conditions permit. There exists a possibility of extending our National Weather Service partnership to provide on-demand radiosonde launches with this system if sufficient performance can be demonstrated. The low cost also offers the possibility of non-traditional educational usage of such a system in the K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) arena.

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