Link to NGI

   WISDOM - Weather In-Situ Deployment Optimization Method
    Click previews for larger image.

On the afternoon of October 22 2008, Louis Wasson dropped by and mentioned that he had released several weather balloons the previous weekend. The balloons, made by Near Space Corporation, are designed to carry a small GPS transponder developed by Engenium Technologies Corporation. I showed him the UAS program for the Vertex and mentioned that if I could access the data it would be fairly easy to modify the program to display the balloons. A few hours later the ballons were being read and displayed in the vertex. There have been a few modifications over the past several weeks. The program currently has the following capabilities:

- read in and draw the most current balloon data (every 15 minutes)
- show the current time and position of each balloon
- display the launch locations and paths of balloons
- a heads up display of the balloon position and total distance traveled
- a display that calculates the difference in two balloon positions
- a time bar that uses tick marks to indicate the new days
- play, pause, fast forward, and rewind controls
- interactive elevation scale
- an option to zero-out the bathymetry
- draw a simple model of the balloons
- connect all balloon paths with a line to easily follow the track

The information for this environment was obtained from:
- Balloon manufacturer: Near Space Corporation
- GPS payload manufacturer: Engenium Technology
- NOAA's WISDOM page
- NGDC's GEODAS Grid Translator
- NOAA's MADIS page: Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System

   Movie clips

   Camera recordings inside the VERTEX
   50 second video from November 11, 2008: data from that afternoon. (9.6MB)

      Thank you Wade Givens, Louis Wasson, and Diedra Weaver for allowing us to film them
         exploring the Virtual Environment inside the VERTEX and for their naration.
      Thanks also for the filming and editing by Martin Rendon.


This is an image of the balloon tracks for 22:20 UTC 10/21 shown on a satellite image taken at 21:00 UTC. The last report from W000108 in the center of the image was at 19:30 UTC at 2864 feet altitude. This image was provided by Russell B Chadwick at NOAA and sent to me by Louis Wasson to show me the reports he was getting.

This is an image taken by Louis Wasson at the balloon launch site in Waveland, Mississippi, on 17 October 2008. Once the balloon is at altitude(either 12000ft or 26000ft) the air pressure is less and the balloon will expand to fill the surface.

The first wisdom screenshot in the VERTEX from 22 October 2008. The balloons are simply displayed as white dots at the correct position over the terrain.

Another view of the balloon tracks in the VERTEX from 22 October 2008. The data is also current for 22 October.

On 24 October 2008, the tracks have now been randomly assigned colors to differentiate between paths. Notice that the balloons launched in Waveland have circled the Gulf of Mexico. One dropped down around Atlanta, Georgia. The other dropped down in a storm, but managed to continue to the north where it was carried across the great lakes towards Canada.

This is an overhead view of the tracks from 24 October 2008. You can see the different paths of the balloons launched out of Waveland, Mississippi. You can also see that the balloons launched from Florida and Puerto Rico have begun to circle back around the Atlantic Ocean.

This shows the balloons which were launched over the weekend of 7 November 2008. The time bar now indicates the time as well as the day (the first tick mark is 7 Nov.) The balloon is now represented by a octagonal balloon shape to resemble the actual balloon. There is a label at each launch site and a marker to show the approximate balloon heights of 12000ft and 26000 ft. On either side of the time bar, balloon positions are displayed. Note that the bathymetry has been turned off. The terrain is still scaled by 10.

This shows the current version of the program as of 12 November 2008. There is now a distance measure under the balloons on each side of the front wall showing the distance traveled by two of the balloons launced from the Waveland, Mississippi site. In the center of the time bar, the distance between the two balloons is displayed. Although balloon 18 and balloon 49 were launched at different times, they have apparently followed the same air current which have kept them within a few hundred miles of each other as they traveled across the US and the northern Atlantic.