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This project explored the kinematics of the buoyancy of a helium balloon with a weight tethered to it. In this experiment, a helium balloon was released in air, with an attached GPS tracking device to obtain the time varying 3D position vector of the balloons flight upwards. Knowing the net mass of the system, the time variation of the 3D position can be analyzed to set up the force balance equation. The variables in the force balance were the aerodynamic forces lift, thrust, weight, and drag. The experimental and calculated accelerations were compared to each other. Also, the phase plots of the motion were generated and interpreted. Phase plots enable an experimenter to get a unique look at the motion data and to find connections between various variables that would otherwise not be obvious. The results obtained will be discussed along with an analysis of the error in modeling the motion. Strong winds played a large part in the error and refinements in the experimental design will be discussed. In addition a simulation of this motion on Google Earth will be presented as well.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Event location
    • Robinson Ballroom

  • Event date
    • 21 March 2012

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. JB Sharma