Beginning of research
Employees of the University of Silesia have been interested in studies on atmosphere pollution, dynamics of its spread, as well as impact on the natural environment and human health for a long time. This research interest was expressed by environmental mineralogists, climatologists, geochemists and microbiologists, as well as physicists and chemists.
Photo 1. History of research balloon flights. Materials: ULKA
The first studies of ozone concentration in the atmosphere using a private balloon were conducted by a physicist from the Institute of Physics at the University of Silesia, Dr Krzysztof Ćwikiel (photos 1 and 2) together wiith an academic from the Silesian University of Technology, pilot Dr Witold Filus.
At the same time, atmospheric pollution was examined by environmental mineralogists, climatologists and geochemists from the University of Silesia (Prof. Janusz Janeczek, Dr Mariola Jabłońska, Dr Beata Smieja-Król, Dr Mieczysław Leśniok, Assoc. Prof. Monika Fabiańska, Professor of the University of Silesia), who established cooperation with Prof. Bernard Grobety and his team from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland).
Photo 2. History of research balloon flights. Materials: ULKA
Professor Grobety conducted studies on pollution introduced in the atmosphere by volcanoes, using a manned balloon for this purpose.
The results of research conducted using a manned hot-air balloon were interesting enough to encourage scientists from the University of Silesia to undertake efforts to purchase a balloon and create an overhead mobile laboratory equipped with equipment for atmosphere studies.
The efforts were ultimately successful, and in 2016, thanks to the financial support from the Regional Environmental and Water Management Fund in Katowice, the first Polish Overhead Mobile Laboratory placed in the basket of a manned hot-air balloon, known as ULKA, was established.