Category Archives: Science

Chasing the elusive weather balloon

Thursday's adventure was George Albercook's launch and successful retrieval of a weather balloon, with a payload of radios, cameras, and GPS telemetry.

Here's a map of the telemetry that was visible through APRS.FI for the duration of the launch. The device is identified as KC8SBA. Note that for some reason tracking didn't pick up until a few minutes after the launch, and the tracking was also silent for a while until just before the descent.

Another view of the same area is from the Fulton County (Ohio) Auditor's map, the organizationresponsible for property assessments. Their online mapping system shows parcel by parcel ownership so that if you did need to find the spot by owner you could. A field near to the one that the balloon's payload landed in looks like this, with big squares of farmland:

The Albercook Scientific timeline on Facebook has many more details, and I'm sure that once all of the pictures from the payload are decoded there will be more pictures and explanation of how this all came together! 

Why the launch was scrubbed

notes from day 14 at

Why was the launch scrubbed this time?

Hydrogen leaks (STS-127) (STS-73)
Thunderstorms (STS-93)
Problem circuit card in the pyrotechnic initiator controller (STS-51)
Perseid meteor shower (STS-51)

I didn't see a complete list of all possible reasons, but there are lots of problems that can happen when you launch into space.  I watched two launches in the last few days – the SpaceX rocket which went up without a hitch, and the shuttle which went up on its 6th try, all very exciting to see.