Balloon Launch

MISSOULA -- A balloon launched into the sky as part of a science experiment at the University of Montana on Saturday afternoon.

The launch was the last test before college students across the country, including five from Montana, head to Chile next month where they will use balloons to measure atmospheric gravity waves during a solar eclipse.

The research will help in creating models that can accurately predict weather patterns and climate change. 

Conditions created by the solar eclipse won't be recreated for another 28 years.

Director of UM's Autonomous Aerial Systems Office, Jennifer Fowler, said the students help to advance the research.

"They're creative, smart and keep us on our toes. They actually have really good insight into new ways to look into this data. It grows the field of research and it really does inform our future when we're looking at weather phenomenon," Fowler said.

Team members will release a balloon every hour for 48 hours while in Chile to create the most robust data set ever recorded.

Participating colleges include the University of Montana, Carroll College, the University of Idaho, Oklahoma State University and the University of Kentucky.

Everyone on the trip will get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for two weeks before they head to Chile.

They'll be in Chile from December 7th through the 17th.

You can follow their journey on the Montana Space Grant Consortium's Facebook page.

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