Probing the Ozone Hole

Spring is the time to watch the ozone hole form every year. In a matter of days to weeks, the juxtaposition of frigid stratospheric air, chlorine monoxide and sunlight destroys the majority of the ozone over the continent. This year, 1996, scientists from the University of Wyoming, the University of California at Irvine and technicians from the NASA facility at Goddard, came down on the first flight after sunrise to study this annual event.


Jim Hereford, Bruno Nardi, Darin Toohey, Lyle Womack.

This group measures ozone levels with balloon launched ozonesondes, particle counters and condensation nuclii detectors. A new instrument, built by Darin Toohey, was launched to study chloroflorocarbon and halon breakdown products, chlorine monoxide and bromine monoxide (it resembles a similar instrument previously flown aboard NASA's U-2 research plane, but weighing in at a compact 40 lbs). This experiment is a one-shot, but the smaller packages are launched every other day, weather permitting.

Balloon statistics

Volume Payload Instruments Max alt.
19,000 ft³ few lbs. Ozonesonde 33 km (~105,000 ft)
50,000 ft³ 40 lbs. Particle counter + ozonesonde 28 km (~90,000 ft)
141,000 ft³ 40 lbs. Condensation nuclii + ozonesonde 33 km (~105,000 ft)
160,000 ft³ 100 lbs. ClO/BrO detector + particle counter + ozonesonde 28 km (~90,000 ft)


Ozonesonde launch - 3 September 1996
[46k JPG] Inflating a "19K" balloon
[47k JPG] Still inflating
[34k JPG] Bruno and Lyle checking for the proper amount of lift
[36k JPG] Jim holds the balloon while Lyle ties on the instrument
[36k JPG] Jim and Darin
[21k JPG] Up and away
[39k JPG] S-131 group photo - From the left: Bruno, Darin, Lyle and Jim
Ozonesonde launch - 15 September 1996
[42k JPG] Lyle and Darin setting out the fill tube
[52k JPG] Lyle adjusting the bubble to avoid tearing
[32k JPG] Darin manning the filler
[45k JPG] Lyle wrestling the fill tube
[11k JPG] Launch
ClO counter launch - 21 September 1996
[37k JPG] Darin's group always launches a passenger
[30k JPG] Watching the "160K" balloon inflate
[33k JPG] Darin turning on his instrument
[49k JPG] Instrument, tinkertoy, parachute and balloon, all ready for launch


André Fortin and Kurt Rush

This group manages several projects, one of which is the new TOMS-EP (Total Ozone Mapping Satellite - Earth Probe). Recently launched via Pegasus delivery system, it uses reflected sunlight to detect the amount of ozone in the stratosphere.


Currently unavailable


TOMS-EP Home Page

To Ethan's Home Page

Last modified: 24 September 1996
© Copyright 1995, 1996, Ethan Dicks <>. All Rights Reserved.