Radiosondes began to be used by investigators during the 1920s and 1930s and were in common use by the late 1930s. Their advantage over other types of meteorological instruments is that they do not have to be returned to Earth for their data to be retrieved.
Meteorologists send these instruments up into the upper atmosphere on balloons twice a day simultaneously around the world – at midnight and at noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Radiosondes take continuous measurements as the balloon rises through the air. This information is transmitted by radio back to the ground. Special tracking equipment monitors the movement of the radiosonde, which is converted into wind speed and wind direction data. When the balloon bursts, the radiosonde falls back to Earth by parachute.
Related category INSTRUMENTATION
Source: U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission
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