Guess what we found in our woods? A radiosonde released by the National Weather Service!
First, some history on radiosondes:
For over 60 years, upper air observations have been made by the National Weather Service (NWS) with radiosondes. The radiosonde is a small, expendable instrument package that is suspended below a 2 meter (6 feet) wide balloon filled with hydrogen or helium. As the radiosonde is carried aloft, sensors on the radiosonde measure profiles of pressure, altitude, geographical position (Latitude/Longitude), temperature, relative humidity, wind (both wind speed and wind direction), and cosmic ray readings at high altitude. The weight of a radiosonde is typically 250 g (8.8 oz). It should also be noted that the average radiosonde is lost and never recovered.
Worldwide there are more than 800 radiosonde launch sites. Most countries share data with the rest of the world through international agreements. In the United States the National Weather Service is tasked with providing timely upper-air observations for use in weather forecasting, severe weather watches and warnings, and atmospheric research. The National Weather Service launches radiosondes from 92 stations in North America and the Pacific Islands twice daily. It also supports the operation of 10 radiosonde sites in the Caribbean.
The radiosonde that we found was suspended by a rope, ranging in a tree. It had the remains of a small balloon at the end of the rope.
We cut it out of the tree and brought it home for inspection. It was released by the NWS from Sterling, VA on 9-23-10.
A message on the instrument requested it be returned to the NWS. A prepaid envelope was inside the box.
The machine had various gauges on it for taking different readings.
We packaged it up and returned it so it can be reused by the NWS.