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    Image courtesy of David Greenberg (and Tom Hartley's software)

From: David Greenberg
Veracruz, March 9, 2006

Short Flight

We launched a balloon at around 3:00 local time from a site outside Mexico City. Unfortunately, the flight only lasted about an hour because the balloon went higher than it was supposed to and the flight was automatically terminated by software on the balloon. You can see from the attached graph what happened.The x-axis is time in fractions of an hour, and the y-axis is altitude in thousands of feet.

Why did the balloon go so high? We're not sure but we think the heat from the sun and the warm air, the fact that we waited too long to launch after the balloon software was trying to control its altitude and the fact that the relative pressure inside the ballast tank and the outer balloon was not calibrated correctly for the launch site altitude all contributed to the balloon's early demise. But this is what real science is like. Tonight we will go over our calculations and tomorrow we'll try again. As Albert Einstein said: Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.

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