While it is getting harder and harder to find people to perform soundings manually, the importance of sounding data is ever-increasing. There is simply no better means of gathering the full vertical atmospheric profile than with a radiosonde travelling through it.
As climate change brings more severe weather phenomena more often, it is crucial that meteorological institutes around the world get accurate and timely atmospheric data to produce reliable forecasts. Reliable automated soundings are the solution.
In 1994, Vaisala introduced Autosonde® – the first automatic sounding station. Autosonde performed up to 24 launches between loading visits, safely and accurately at scheduled intervals. This first version was well-accepted by the meteorological industry, where it gained ground over traditional manual sounding stations to about 100 installations around the world until the new version was released.
Vaisala introduced the next-generation Autosonde in 2018: Vaisala Automatic Sounding Station Autosonde® AS41. Building on our experience with the previous models, Vaisala created the ultimate automatic sounding station with all-new technology and features.
AS41 is superior to any automatic sounding device on the market. For example, no other automated sounding station can deliver the capacity of 60 sondes for up to a month of autonomous soundings, the capability of utilizing both helium and hydrogen with a single configuration, minimal maintenance with industry-grade automation, and unmatched reliability and safety.
These features have resulted in unprecedented interest in Autosonde. In less than three years, more than 50 units have been sold across six continents.
Investing in automation is always a big decision for an organization, especially for traditional, government-owned meteorological institutes. To justify the investment, it is important to consider total lifetime costs.
With manual sounding equipment, early investments are typically much lower than with an automated solution. However, the annual labor costs of one or two full-time employees performing soundings add up quickly. The combined cost of manual sounding equipment, personnel and facilities, shelter for balloon filling and other related expenses far exceeds the cost of a reliable automated solution. Significant amount of regular and reactive maintenance, or dedicated staff to monitor the automatic system’s performance, can cause unexpected costs even if the initial investment was less.
Autosonde AS41 is proven to provide reliable, autonomous performance for long periods of time, with timely and accurate observation data gathered by the state-of-the-art Vaisala Radiosonde RS41. The highly efficient AS41 only needs to be replenished once a month to complete two soundings per day, and each loading visit takes about half a day.
With predefined annual, 5-year and 10-year preventive maintenance, the solution will perform accurately and reliably for more than 15 years. Maintenance is simple and safe to complete, thanks to easily accessible components.
AS41 is designed to withstand the harshest of environments to ensure safe, continuous operation in any weather conditions. The solution can perform soundings in winds of up to 25 m/s, through temperatures of -40°C-53°C, during high precipitation of up to 50 mm/h, and even with 150 kg of snow covering the launcher vessel covers. For superior performance practically anywhere in the world, AS41 withstands wind speeds up to 60 m/s (when properly installed) – and someday, perhaps even on Mars.