In mid-1979, American specialists at the University of Wyoming and NOAA invited their counterparts from the Department of Physics, at the Federal University of Ceara (UFC) to participate in a project to monitor ozone levels in the upper atmosphere. The measures would be carried out using a stratospheric balloon that would carry a payload consisting of sensors and collectors to obtain air samples up to 40 kms. The initiative was part of a global research project that included taking samples at different latitudes from Alaska, through the center of the United States, Australia, the South Pole and the Equator region.

Brazilian scientists accepted the offer, but taking account that there was no researcher at the University who was acting in that field, made an alternative proposal: they would provide all logistical support for the campaign and in turn their American colleagues will bring equipment and spare parts valued in U$S 5.000 to donate to the Department. Because at that time in Brazil the import of all kind of stuff was very expensive, the two trips per year that the Americans did for their campaigns proved to be an excellent way to equip the various research laboratories of the UFC.

Balloon launch at Fazenda Normal, Ceara
Preparating a sampling payload at Fazenda Normal, Ceara

The launch operations took place in Fazenda Normal, a farm of 1,500 acres owned by the government of Ceará located in the Municipality of Quixeramobim, 214 km from the city of Fortaleza, and managed by the EMATERCE (Empresa de Assistência Técnica e Extensão Rural do Ceará).

These campaigns lasted until 1982 when the government of Ronald Reagan, sharply cut funding for such research.

Through this initiative, the UFC staff could get their first computer. Also is noteworthy that the surplus helium gas that Americans brought to Brazil for the inflation of the balloons, served after completion of the program, to keep running cryostats in several laboratories throughout Brazil during two years.

This story was translated and adapted from the personal chronicle published by Prof. Jose Evangelista de Carvalho Moreira, who was a participant in the project. Sadly the original page was deleted from the website.

Table of balloons launched from Fazenda Normal, Quixeramobim (incomplete listing in permanent updating)

DateHourFlight DurationExperimentPayload landing place or cause of the failure
3/8/1978 ---GRAB SAMPLER--- No Data ---
3/9/1978 ---GRAB SAMPLER--- No Data ---
9/27/1978 ---LYMAN-ALPHA HYGROMETER--- No Data ---
3/29/1979 ---GRAB SAMPLER--- No Data ---