Increasing long-distance balloon float times
Just brainstorming after a coworker shared an image of an internet balloon with me.
A ballast-control algorithm accounting for predicted temperatures for long-distance high altitude ballooning projects could provide additional float distance, justifying nicer sensor equipment and creating more value for weather prediction models relying on radiosonde equipment.
Long-distance balloon projects are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. Between day and night, temperature fluctuations affect the altitude of the balloon, creating a sine-wave pattern of altitudes over a declining average height. Balloons will either rise too high and burst, or lose helium at a pretty consistent rate as helium is a difficult gas to contain even under sealed environments. To reduce the amount of altitude fluctuation (which is valuable for sensor equipment) balloons can either release ballast to rise, or release helium to descent.