This is what NASA’s super pressure balloon looks like floating in the air at night. Perhaps you’ve already spotted the problem.
This is what the Super Pressure Balloon looks like on the ground, preparing to take flight (Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
NASA just launched the latest version of its 532,000-cubic-metre super pressure balloon yesterday morning. It’s an updated version of a similar stratosphere-monitoring balloon that sprung a leak only one month into its journey a year ago, alarming some Australian residents who caught a glimpse of its spectral form as it crashed down for an impromptu landing. This time around, NASA hopes to keep the balloon aloft at 33.5km for a full 100 days, as originally planned for the ill-fated balloon flight last year.
In addition to some technical adjustments to the balloon’s systems, NASA is also taking measures that could cut down on UFO reports from non-NASA observers who spot the orb floating eerily overhead. The new effort includes a publicly-accessible real-time map that tracks the balloon’s progress. You can even use it to plan a sighting! (The balloon’s maiden voyage will keep it mostly in the southern hemisphere, luckily for Australians!)
You can check out the map right here — and reassure yourself that sometimes what you’re seeing really is just a weather balloon.
The progress of Super Pressure Balloon 2 so far (Image:NASA)