History of Discovery of the Atmosphere

History of Discovery of the Atmosphere

Some aspects of our planet are easier to explore than others. If you want to study a forest, you go to a forest. If you want to study a river, go to a river. But what if you want to know what’s at the top of our atmosphere? How do you get there, especially in the time before planes and rockets were invented?

If you lived before the 20th Century, then you might have looked up at the sky everyday, but you would have been unable to go there.

Exploring the atmosphere was a challenge before we developed the technologies that get us there like hot air balloons, weather balloons, parachutes, dirigibles, and, eventually, planes. The technology for taking measurements in the atmosphere has also improved over time.

This web series tells the story of the lengths people went to in order to explore the atmosphere and the technologies they used to get high in the sky and make measurements.  You'll learn about people who climbed mountains carrying an enormous barometers and people who passed out from freezing temperatures and and lack of oxygen as they took measurements of the air several miles high.

To navigate through the stories in this series, click the links below.