Q: How are temperatures in the higher atmosphere measured?Even more interesting was a question I'd always wondered about: How do meteorolosits get all that equipment back?
A: Meteorologists monitor the atmosphere above the surface by using a radio-equipped meteorological instrument package - called radiosondes - carried aloft by a helium-filled weather balloon. The radiosondes measure vertical profiles of air temperature, relative humidity and pressure from the ground all the way up to about 19 miles. Temperature and relative humidity are measured electronically; a small aneroid barometer measures pressure.
Wind speed and direction can also be determined by tracking the position of the balloon. When winds are also measured, the observation is called a rawinsonde.
At low air pressures in the stratosphere, the balloon expands so much that it explodes and the radiosonde drifts back to the ground underneath a small parachute.You learn something every day.
("Sonde" is French for "probe.") Text from the Wisconsin State Journal. Image credit NOAA.