Photo credit: RYOT

Japan-based artist Azuma Makoto launched his work into space to show that beauty can exist anywhere. Makoto partnered with JP Aerospace to make project “Exobiotanica” a reality. The first item he sent was a bouquet of colorful flowers sourced from around the world, and the other, a 50-year-old bonsai pine tree specially shipped from his private collection in Japan. They were launched at Black Rock Desert outside Gerlach, Nevada, where the Burning Man Festival is held annually. Continue reading for more.

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One of the first people to use weather balloons was Leon Teisserenc de Bort, the French meteorologist. Starting in 1896 he launched hundreds of weather balloons from his observatory in Trappes, France. These experiments lead to his discovery of the tropopause and stratosphere.

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Transosondes, weather balloons with instrumentation meant to stay at a constant altitude for long periods of time to help diagnose radioactive debris from atomic fallout, were experimented with in 1958.

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The balloon itself produces the lift, and is usually made of a highly flexible latex material, though Chloroprene may also be used. The unit that performs the actual measurements and radio transmissions hangs at the lower end of the string, and is called a radiosonde.

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The balloon is usually filled with hydrogen due to lower cost, though helium can also be used. The ascent rate can be controlled by the amount of gas with which the balloon is filled. Weather balloons may reach altitudes of 40 km (25 miles) or more, limited by diminishing pressures causing the balloon to expand to such a degree (typically by a 100:1 factor) that it disintegrates.

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Specialized uses also exist, such as for aviation interests, pollution monitoring, photography or videography and research. Examples include pilot balloons (Pibal). Field research programs often use mobile launchers from land vehicles as well as ships and aircraft (usually dropsondes in this case).


A technology, gadget and video game enthusiast that loves covering the latest industry news. Favorite trade show? Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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