Design and preliminary evaluation of a baloon-borne instrument for measuring atmospheric electrical profiles
Weinheimer, Andrew John
Few, Arthur A.
Master of Science
A balloon-borne instrument has been developed for the purpose of making fair weather atmospheric electrical measurements. The instrument named Balloon Electrical Environment Profiling System (BEEPS), is similar in principle to balloons flown previously into thunderstorms by our group at Rice. It has the capability of measuring the height profiles of the vector electric field, the vertical component of the conduction current, and the polar conductivities. The balloon is designed to make measurements up through the lower polar stratosphere (14 km), and the first two flights of BEEPS were made from Barrow, Alaska, (71°N, 157°W) in conjunction with a solar magnetic sector boundary crossing, with a flight on either side of the boundary. These flights are part of an effort to measure the electrical response of the atmosphere, as a function of altitude, to the solar sector structure. Knowledge gained from flights such as these may prove valuable to developing an understanding of the role atmospheric electricity may play in those aspects of the sun-weather problem that involve the solar sector structure.