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Google's Rogue Internet Balloon Test Spurred UFO Reports Nationwide 65

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The hardest thing about Google X's Project Loon hasn't been the engineering challenge of beaming high-speed internet down to the far-flung corners of the world: It's trying to control all those freaking balloons. Project lead Rich DeVaul just revealed the 'Falcon 11,' a 120-foot long transparent mylar balloon made in-house at the secret Google X lab that spurred UFO reports nationwide after the company lost track of it: 'We tracked the balloon by outsourcing to the internet UFO community, it drifted all the way across the country,' he said."
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Google's Rogue Internet Balloon Test Spurred UFO Reports Nationwide

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  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @09:29AM (#47045569) Homepage Journal
    What I took from that was " Google terrorizes nation with gigantic UFO "
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Surely Google would have had to report that one of their balloons had gone rogue to the FAA, correct? Can't imagine that it doesn't become a hazard to aircraft especially if it drifts near an airport.

    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      I'm not sure what altitude this flew, but most class B and C airspace goes no higher than 10,000ft MSL so if this was above that altitude, it would not have broken any of those airspace regulations. In order for it to get past the Rocky Mountains, it was probably at least 7,000ft so it's quite possible it was over 10,000 ft.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well, google says "about 12 miles up" ... That actually gets slightly tricky (iirc only a few sectors have controlled airspace above FL600)

        • by asylumx ( 881307 )
          Ya, thanks. I was trying to find what altitude this flew at before I posted but couldn't find it.
      • According to eyewitness testimonial, sighting was with clear, blue, cloudless skies, no aircraft in sight, altitude unknown but definitely above airliner cruising altitude. The object hovered roughly in the same location for over 2 hours, not drifting more than 10 degrees in any direction. Was sighted approximately 60 degrees above the horizon. Image in video was shot with about 150 power magnification.

        That's the quote from one of TFA...

        • "According to eyewitness testimonial, sighting was with clear, blue, cloudless skies, no aircraft in sight, altitude unknown but definitely above airliner cruising altitude."

          So no reference but thew new the altitude?
          The testimony is worth exactly nothing. This is a common problem with 'UFO seekers' they have no idea that they can't actual give a distance with any accuracy without reference.. So the 'distance' they see something is set at whatever the bias of the viewer wants it to be.

          The person who took the video refuses to believe it's acutally a Balloon and thinks Google is lying. So idiocy abounds.

    • I don't know about this balloon, but the ones I've been tracking on FlightRadar are solidly *above* controlled airspace. Airliners tend to hang out around 30,000-40,000 feet, business jets are typically 35,000-45,000 feet, and Google's balloons are at 60,000 feet and above.

  • UFOs exist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @09:34AM (#47045611) Journal

    Any unidentified flying object is a UFO. I just despair at people immediately assuming that means it's extraterrestial in nature.

    • Any unidentified flying object is a UFO

      Kind of by definition, as you've essentially expanded the acronym. :-P

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      I know, but some people believe in all that stuff. Then again, that's all "UFO" is ever used for anyway, so there's no problem.

    • When you have organisations like MUFON who are more interested in alien invaders than weather balloons, you can understand the usage.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Since the fact majority of uses is for that, it's a decent assumption. If you don't like it, blame the UFO(alien) community that co-opted it.

    • Any unidentified flying object is a UFO.

      This tautology contest is a tautology contest.

    • A significant subset probably believes that they're evidence of a conspiracy instead.

  • it's trying to control all those freaking balloons

    now that wasn't too hard to predict, was it?


  • I wonder what would happen if a 120 balloon got stuck in a jet engine?
  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @10:07AM (#47045837)
    Tracking Project Loon by following a bunch of UFO loons. Well done Google.
  • People want SO BADLY to believe that we're being visited by aliens, that they won't accept a very clear explanation for what they saw. It's kind of sad that we are so disillusioned with our own world that we need to convince ourselves of things like UFOs.
    • It's kind of sad that we are so disillusioned with our own world that we need to convince ourselves of things like UFOs.

      Partly, but I also wonder how much of it is because some people will convince themselves of anything just to feel special because they know The Truth. The more ridiculous the thing, the more special a person it takes to know that it's true.

      c.f. conspiracy theories down the ages.

  • There's a high-end RC hybrid-blimp-thing called the Hyperblimp, it's about 50ft long and transparent. It's been featured by various news stations as a UFO many times. Even with some pics close enough that you can see that it's clearly composed of non-exotic man-made technology. *facepalm*

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      I've seen picture of Chinese floating lanterns which are clearly 50 feet away(reference point: trees) and people say it' a UFO miles away.
      At least they stopped when I pointed out the hard to see marking on the lantern oh, no they didn't they called me names and went out about the 'truth'.

    • by chihowa ( 366380 ) *

      Speaking of RC and amateur devices, I'm surprised that they didn't just use APRS to keep track of the balloons []. The power budget of a GPS and VHF transmitter are tiny and they can tie into the network (almost) no matter where, or how high, the balloon goes.

      The transmissions aren't commercial in nature, so as long as there is a licensed ham there is should be all legal.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2014 @10:36AM (#47046131) Journal
    All you have to do is to claim a little boy has sneaked aboard and the balloon has taken off and the balloon boy is missing. Every network will find, track and cover the balloon preempting all scheduled programming. Air Force and Air National Guard will be mobilized. Airports will be closed. It will be tracked. It. Cant. Fail.
  • They just have google it right? Google will find it. They might even hit the "I feel lucky" button.
  • I love how UFO believers still exist. We literally have flying discs. I think you can buy them on Thinkgeek. With all the crap we have flying around up there like drones and satellites and secret planes and hobbyist stuff and rockets and balloons, the FIRST place they do is still "must be aliens."
  • So Google lost a balloon, what would have happened if that balloon took down a passenger plane or a military jet? Oh and shouldn't that balloon be considered a drone as well?? I think Google should be heavily Fined for loosing the balloon. That is IMO
  • This is way old, but can be usefull to help Google control their balloons. []

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