Students in the U.S. Launched Balloons to Study Ozone

October 18, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. launch [lawnch] (v.) – to release
Example: The scientists launched the space rocket last Friday.

2. climate [KLAHY-mit] (n.) – the common weather conditions existing in an area
Example: The hot climate in the town is best for drying grains.

3. worsen [wurs-en] (v.) – to make something more problematic
Example: The overuse of oil products worsens the pollution in some cities.

4. ascend [uh-SEND] (v.) – to go up through the air
Example: The balloon ascended higher than 21,000 feet.

5. deploy [dih-PLOI] (v.) – to arrange and prepare for action
Example: Researchers are deployed to study the status of the ozone layer.


Read the text below.
Students at Saint Louis University have launched weather balloons as part of a nationwide study funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Professor Gary Morris from Indiana led the ozone balloon project. The team wanted to study the atmosphere to know more of the ozone’s good and bad effects.

The team released the weather balloons daily from August until mid-September. The balloon would help improve the understanding of how ozone affects air pollution and the climate.

The balloons had attached white or blue Styrofoam boxes, which kept the GPS and the two other little instruments in place. These little devices would measure the temperature, humidity, and air pressure in the ozone.

The researchers have also filled each balloon with helium until it reached two to three meters in diameter. They then released the balloons, which ascended to up to 30km to reach the stratosphere. When the balloons exploded, parachutes got deployed, safely delivering the Styrofoam package back to earth.

Stratosphere is the part of the atmosphere where ozone layer is located. Ozone absorbs sunlight and protects people from ultraviolet radiation. However, the ozone has already become polluted as smog formed in the atmosphere due to petrochemical plant and car emissions. This type of pollution can worsen respiratory illnesses like asthma, especially among children.

The leader of the project mentioned that the study is important because the pollution level even outside the cities is continuously rising. The project can also be a great start in understanding the complexities of meteorology, which can help in explaining one of the most problematic phenomena today, the climate change.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why is it important to study the ozone layer? Please explain your answer.
·         In your opinion, is it important to involve the public in this type of experiment? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How can we protect our atmosphere? Please explain your answer.
·         What do you think are the ways that your government can do to protect the environment? Please briefly explain.


October 18, 2013