Researchers launch trial balloon to test equipment for total solar eclipse

ST. LOUIS - Researchers at Saint Louis University and Ameren Missouri launched a special weather balloon Tuesday in preparation of the total solar eclipse expected this summer.

They launched the five-fight wide balloon just before 1:30 p.m. and researchers said they’re excited to see what happens. The balloon, equipped with Quantum Weather technology, will gather information about how the atmosphere reacts during the August 21 eclipse.

Tuesday’s dry run will make sure equipment and personnel are ready and operational for the big day.

“There’s a really large response on the part of the atmosphere when we lose sunlight and we are going to lose sunlight for two and a half minutes during the total solar eclipse,” said Dr. Bob Paskin, SLU. “This is a unique opportunity.”

The eclipse will also be visible for miles in some of the most populated areas in the country. These events are rare and only last for a few minutes. At present, more than 20 universities, national laboratories, the National Weather Service, and NASA are planning to take measurements.

The United States has not seen this type of eclipse since 1979 and that one could only be seen in the northwest.