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15 December 2011

New Distance Record: Amateur Radio Balloon crosses the Atlantic

Image: aprs-fi (Google Maps) - Click on image for larger view.

A group of US balloonists have achieved the first amateur transatlantic meteorological balloon crossing, with an epic three-day flight from California to the Mediterranean.

The California Near Space Project (CNSP) unleashed four balloons from Silicon Valley on Sunday night. Two were standard high-altitude attempts, which burst at around 125,000ft and landed in western Nevada.

The other two were "floaters" - filled with sufficient helium to reach a pre-burst altitude and then wander with the wind. The first, call sign K6RPT-12, appears to have given up the ghost over Indiana, but the second - K6RPT-11 - continued eastwards across the continent and out over the Atlantic.

Radio enthusiasts in Nova Scotia tracking the balloon via the APRS system lost contact yesterday morning, and it wasn't until 11 hours later that K6RPT-11 reappeared advancing on the Azores.

By this morning, the balloon had traversed southern Spain, and was en route to Italy.

"The California Near Space Project launched a high altitude weather balloon from San Jose, California 4:00 PM local time Sunday afternoon (Dec 11). Over the past 3 days it managed to cross the United States and then the Atlantic Ocean.

The balloon passed the coastline of Spain about 12:40 AM (US Eastern Standard Time) Wednesday morning (Dec 14). It has since popped and landed in the Mediterranean Sea. This is a huge accomplishment.

The previous distance record was about 3,300 miles. This one traveled about 6,200 miles. Enthusiasts tracked the balloon via the web throughout most of the trip thanks to a ham radio technology called APRS which received data transmitted by the balloon and logged it to databases on the internet.

Thanks to APRS stations around the world (some of whom changed their normal listening frequencies to help with the tracking process) data was available for most of the flight."

- Internet

SAWDIS - APRS is used by the SAWDIS as the core weather and emergency communications system to improve information and knowledge sharing between all the role players is the APRS RF and Internet Protocol-based global system. APRS consists of a combination of point-to-point, point-to-multipoint and multipoint-to-point networks that transfer weather-related information throughout the world. Connected via a comprehensive network of terrestrial and satellite links, APRS serves as the backbone of a meteorological network. At the core of the SAWDIS is the main telecommunications network, which is the global interconnection link between Internet APRS Servers, Internet IGATES, HF RF IGATES. At the local level, SAWDIS rely on amateur radio operators (HAMS) and their aperture terminals connection links to feed information into and receive critical data from the APRS/Internet Servers and HF/VHF/UHF networks

By connecting APRS Weather Services throughout the world via the Internet, APRS helps to ensure that real-time information sharing. However, many areas in South Africa lack the necessary infrastructure and knowledge to benefit from the globally connected network for weather- and disaster-related data and climate prediction information. Using existing amateur radio networks and local level broadcasting systems, the SAWDIS keeps marginalized communities better informed.

The usefulness of the APRS world network must not be underestimated and has once again proved its worth during this record balloon flight