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For sixth year in a row, Ely eighth graders successfully launch weather balloon

by Parker Loew

On Oct. 16, eighth graders launched a weather balloon roughly 22,000 meters into the stratosphere with the help of their teacher, Nate LaFond.

The launch was delayed roughly five days due to bad weather and other unforeseen circumstances but was successfully launched for the sixth year in a row on Monday.

“The 8th graders have been working hard to make this launch possible,” said LaFond. “These include learning how to operate different types of instruments, making sure the payload is structurally sound, and running the weather modeling software to predict the best launch time.”

The large helium balloon carried a payload with precise scientific instruments measuring the relative humidity, air pressure, temperature, GPS location, and altitude every six seconds during the flight.

“We use this information to gather difficult-to-obtain information about the upper atmosphere,” said LaFond.

He expected the balloon to make it into the stratosphere before launch, and he was not let down.

“Our balloon flies through the troposphere (where weather and clouds happen) and into the lower stratosphere,” said LaFond. “The balloon will eventually pop and fall back to earth under the resistance of a small parachute.”

According to the group’s Facebook page, the balloon reached a height of 22,796 meters before popping.  The balloon landed in a tree south of Lake County Hwy. 2. LaFond was able to recover the balloon using its GPS trackers.

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