Ice crystals observation


I’m fascinated by clouds. I like to watch them and let my imagination fly with them. When I was asked the question “What would you like to send skywards?” during a workshop at the Palais de Tokyo, my first idea was to send a station to observe the ice crystals in the clouds.

There can be several reasons for observing these crystals. They are beautiful creations of nature and observing their various shapes is fascinating and that is already a nice motivation. They can also be good examples for teaching/education. Their formation is explained by the thermodynamics and exemplifies concepts such as nucleation or supercooling. They are also responsible for various optical phenomenons such as sun dogs, moon dogs, circumzenithal arcs, and many others. Observing them can bring enthusiasm to people who are asking questions about nature and arose more curiosity. It is also important to observe them in order to better understand the climate and its change: the interaction of the crystal clouds with the sun radiations is known to have a significant effect on climate, which remains partially misunderstood and it is an important science research topics.

This is why I would like to send a station to observe ice crystals in the sky. Maybe some of you would share a common interest in this project, might it be educative, artistic, scientific or utopic. Please let me know if this is the case and let see what happens…


Hi Eric @ericmersch ! Welcome to the Aerocene community forum!

Your fascination with ice crystals is very inspiring! Of course we could send a station to observe this phenomena with a solar powered balloon. Just bear in mind that payload weight would be around 1,5 to 2 kilograms maximum, with perfect conditions. And now talking about conditions, solar balloons need constant sunlight to remain aloft. I am wondering, are these ice crystals found only within cloud formations or could they be found aloft outside clouds?

I am too fascinated by clouds! Here’s two examples that I really like:

Actinoform clouds:
These clouds organize themselves in nature like patterns! Talk about Gaia and the living earth :earth_africa::slight_smile:

In a satellite image, they look like distinct leaf-like or spokes-on-a-wheel patterns that stand out from the rest of the low-lying cloud field. However, why they have this shape or how they are formed is not known, but recent evidence suggests that the interaction of both radiation and precipitation may help to organize them on the mesoscale.

Noctilucent clouds: Clouds that shine in the dark!

Noctilucent clouds , or night shining clouds , are tenuous cloud-like phenomena in the upper atmosphere of Earth. They consist of ice crystals and are only visible during astronomical twilight. Noctilucent roughly means “night shining” in Latin.

Pleasure to e-meet you! Greetings from Buenos Aires