Yesterday afternoon we succesfully launched two balloons from a site sligthly northwest of Mexico City. Although we can control the height of the balloon somewhat, the direction it goes in is controlled by the wind. Well, the wind pulled a quick one on us and decided to take the first balloon right into the airspace of the Mexico City airport. Bad idea! We had to terminate the flight.
Our second balloon fared much better, however and flew for almost 24 hours before it went too high during a sounding and the flight terminated. A sounding is a delicate maneuver that lets us explore the wind currents at different altitudes by first directing the balloon to go up and then down from it's current level. It is one of the methods we use to track a plume of polluted air.
The picture above is a 3-D characterization of the flight of the second balloon. This was done with Google Earth, which you can download for free here. It's a pretty cool program for tracking the trajectories of the balloons and the airplane flights and many of us are using it.
If all goes well, we will take to the skies again on Wednesday. Stay tuned.