This month, we have an additional Zoom meeting this Saturday, March 11th at 6:30 PM related to the recent on-going news coverage of the headline-grabbing high altitude balloons and the military reaction. New regulations may influence these important hands-on experiences for university aerospace students.

Two of our local Sky Watchers are involved with “pico” balloon launches and projects with students. Jim Langsted and George Lehmkuhl, radio amateurs here in Coal Creek Canyon, will describe these balloon activities and their experience with them over the years.

Amateur Radio Operators (HAMs) have been flying High Altitude Amateur Balloons since 1987. With a range of up to 100 miles, these were originally launched to carry amateur television cameras and transmitters. The hobby has morphed to provide support for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) projects and college aerospace programs.

The National Weather Service launches two balloons (radiosondes) a day from 89 locations throughout the United States. Amateurs track and sometimes recover these as well. Recently ultra-lightweight (pico) balloons have been developed that can circumnavigate the Earth in the atmospheric Jet Stream. One of these may have gained recent military attention.