MIKE MOSS SAYS: Jerry, Your yard served as a landing pad for a Vaisala Radiosonde unit that was probably launched from the National Weather Service upper air station in Greensboro. The system is attached to a helium balloon that carries it to an altitude of about 90-100,000 feet before the balloon expands (due to decreasing outside air pressure) to a point that it bursts, and the package parachutes to the ground.
These systems are launched twice a day, occasionally four times daily in special circumstances, and are used to measure the vertical profiles of temperature, dew point, and wind speed/direction, along with the altitude of various pressure levels. The data is useful to meteorologists directly for analysis, and also serves as a primary means of initializing computerized numerical weather prediction models.
Usually, the sonde includes an attached tyvek envelope that is pre-addressed for the National Weather Service. This allows anyone who finds it to wrap it in the envelope and mail it back to the NWS for re-conditioning and re-use, postage free.
Data from radiosondes is typically displayed as a "sounding" on something we call a Skew-T Log-P diagram. You can see an example and some guidance on interpretation, as well as access current and recent soundings, at
http://weather.unisys.com/upper_air/skew/index.html (click "more information" for interpretation guidance)
Also, here's an address for a radiosonde fact sheet from the National Weather Service