Every day, hundreds of small balloons help with weather forecasting, said Jesse Geffen, a manager at Kaymont Consolidated, which provides weather balloons to the U.S. government.
Measuring about six feet in diameter, at a cost of roughly $40, these balloons are usually filled with helium or hydrogen, and rise at about 1,000 feet per minute. A tiny sensor measures temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, shooting the readings to the National Weather Service stations in real-time, Geffen said.
As the balloon ascends, pressure inside it steadily grows. Once it reaches around 90,000 feet, the balloon reaches its limit and bursts into thousands of little biodegradable plastic pieces, Geffen added. This self-destruction minimizes their environmental impact.