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NSSL successfully launches prototype balloon borne instruments into storm

NSSL researchers successfully launched two balloon borne prototype instruments into a large thunderstorm complex last week.

The "High Definition Videosonde Particle Imager," built in NSSL's electronics and machine shop, is designed to capture high-definition images of water particles. Other instruments attached to the balloon measure the surrounding electrical field and other atmospheric variables.

The NSSL team has been on standby the month of October to launch the instruments when thunderstorms impact central Oklahoma. Data are also collected simultaneously from the 3-D Oklahoma Lightning Mapping Array (OK-LMA), the National Weather Radar Testbed Phased Array Radar, and the University of Oklahoma Polarimetric Radar for Innovations in Meteorology and Engineering (OU-PRIME) for analysis and comparison.

With these initial data, researchers will begin to evaluate the quality of the HD Videosonde observations and to develop image-processing tools to extract the particle concentration and size measurements automatically. These measurements will be used to help fulfill aspects of the NOAA/NSSL mission, with applications to thunderstorm modeling, warn-on-forecast studies, and radar precipitation classification schemes used by polarimetric radars.