Atmosphere Observation (Encyclopedia of Science)
Atmosphere observation refers to all equipment and techniques used to study properties of the atmosphere, including temperature, pressure, air movements, and chemical composition. Basic instruments for measuring the atmosphere, such as the barometer, were developed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However, these instruments were useful at first only in studying atmospheric properties close to the ground, not at very high altitudes. Over time, weather instruments were eventually carried into the atmosphere by devices ranging from kites to satellites.
One of the first means developed for raising instruments to higher altitudes was the kite. In a famous experiment, American statesman Benjamin Franklin used a kite in 1752 to discover that lightning was nothing other than a form of electricity. Within a short period of time, kites were being used by other scientists to carry recording thermometers into the atmosphere, where they could read temperatures at various altitudes.
An important breakthrough in atmospheric observation came in the late eighteenth century with the invention of the hot-air balloon. Balloon flights made it possible to carry instruments thousands of feet into the atmosphere to take measurements. For the next 150 years, balloons were the primary means by which...
(The entire section is 619 words.)
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