That above is what NASA’s super pressure balloon looks like on the ground. And this — pictured below — is what it looks like floating in the air at night. Perhaps you’ve already spotted the problem.
The earlier version of the Super Pressure Balloon in flight over Australia (Image: Kris J Parker/Victorian Storm Chasers Facebook)
NASA just launched the latest version of its 18-million-cubic-foot super pressure balloon late last night. 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 just over 100,000 feet 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, though.)
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 Ballon 2 so far (Image:NASA)