Radiosonde observations, providing temperature, humidity, and wind observations independent of cloud cover, are more desirable than pilot balloon observations for climate research studies. However, these observations are typically expensive, at least $100 per observation, and often twice this, and these high costs have limited their use in the widespread network that the PACS-SONET maintains. Nevertheless, PACS-SONET has been involved in the development of recoverable radiosonde systems, in order to provide radiosonde-type observations at a lower cost than current radiosonde technology can provide. We are hoping that this technology, if successfully developed, can increase the density of these upper air observations in Pan American countries (and in other developing regions) which currently do not have the economic resources to maintain sufficiently dense upper air sounding networks.
The two strategies being developed to obtain radiosonde-type soundings are the glidersonde and the powersonde. A glidersonde involves a balloon lifting a glider (with a radiosonde) to high altitudes and then releasing it. The powersonde concept uses a model airplane to carry the meteorological sensors.