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While various efforts were attempted at remotely sensing the atmosphere with instruments onboard unmanned free balloons, the current type of radiosonde dates back to January 1930, when Pavel A. Molchanov, a Russian meteorologist, made a successful radio sounding into the stratosphere. He launched his radiosonde at Pavlovsk. His goal was a cheap, and expendable means of sounding the atmosphere for temperature, moisture and wind data. The U.S. Weather Bureau first used radiosondes in 1936. During that year a radiosonde network of several stations was inaugurated to obtain upper air soundings on a routine basis. This network replaced the kite and aircraft sounding programs. Currently, 70 radiosonde stations are distributed across the continental United States. Radiosondes are launched from these stations twice daily, just prior to 0000 and 1200 UTC. Radiosondes can be launched in almost any type of weather. While the radiosonde is reasonably durable, severe thunderstorms and heavy precipitation may cause instrument failure or radio interferenceRADIOSONDE COMPONENTS

The complete radiosonde system, or rawinsonde, consists of a balloon-borne radiosonde instrument

package, a radio receiver, a tracking unit and a recorder. Additional Radiosonde background information is provided.