Overview of and first observations from the TILDAE High-Altitude Balloon Mission
Abstract. Though the presence of intermittent turbulence in the stratosphere has been well established, much remains unknown about it. In situ observations of this phenomenon, which have provided the greatest details of it, have mostly been achieved via sounding balloons (i.e., small balloons which burst at peak altitude) carrying constant-temperature
hot-wire anemometers (CTAs). The Turbulence and Intermittency Long-Duration Atmospheric Experiment (TILDAE) was developed to test a new paradigm for stratospheric observations. Rather than flying on a sounding balloon, TILDAE was incorporated as an
add-on experiment to the payload of a NASA long-duration balloon mission that launched in January 2016 from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Furthermore, TILDAE's key instrument was a sonic anemometer, which (relative to a CTA) provides better-calibrated measurements of wind velocity and a more robust separation of velocity components. During the balloon's ascent, TILDAE's sonic anemometer provided atmospheric measurements up to an altitude of about 18 km, beyond which the ambient air pressure was too low for the instrument to function properly. Efforts are currently underway to scientifically analyze these observations of small-scale fluctuations in the troposphere, tropopause, and stratosphere and to develop strategies for increasing the maximum operating altitude of the sonic anemometer.