On any given day, the sky is full of flying machines, strange lights, and sometimes unidentified objects in the air, but the government wants to reassure the public that it’s fully aware of this exotic craft circling the Earth.
NASA’s super pressure balloon launched from New Zealand this week with a 100-day mission to travel the Earth and study the planet’s stratosphere, but the space agency is worried it will be mistaken for an alien ship.
“As the balloon travels around Earth, it may be visible from the ground – particularly at sunrise and sunset – to those who live in the southern hemisphere’s mid-latitudes, such as New Zealand, Argentina, Australia and South Africa.”
The huge shiny grey high tech weather balloon is 92 times the size of Goodyear blimps and is larger than a football stadium; it was designed as a cheap way to conduct long-term near-space research, reports The Register.
“[It will] probe the mysterious origins of galactic positrons, study the creation of new elements in the galaxy, and perform pioneering studies of gamma-ray bursts and black holes.”
The last super pressure balloon NASA launched unexpectedly sprung a leak after 32 days in the air and crashed in the Australian outback where local residents panicked fearing an invasion from space aliens. The longest super pressure balloon flight was 54 long days back in 2009.
This time, NASA hopes its high tech high pressure weather balloon will stay in the air for the full 100 days at 100,000 feet above the Earth, according to the space agency.
“The balloon is pressurized, healthy, and well on its way for this important test mission.”
The space agency doesn’t want anyone to mistake the high tech weather balloon for a UFO full of aliens so it’s created a website where users can track the exotic craft in real time.
The balloon will mostly be seen in the southern hemisphere as it travels around the world every two to three weeks; during the first phase of its flight, the super pressure balloon will float west across southern Australia. At the end of the mission, the balloon is expected to land in South America, according to the space agency.
“The successful launch demonstrates the value of an experienced scientific ballooning team and represents a partner NASA can count on.”
The super pressure weather balloon isn’t the only thing that earthlings have mistaken for alien UFO craft. Lighting is often associated with alien craft as are strange clouds, military missile launches, and contrails formed by airplanes.
There are also other man-made objects that have spent time circling the Earth.
The military’s unscrewed X-37B space plane has been circling the planet for a year in a super secret mission but is much smaller than NASA’s giant weather balloon.
About the size of a NASA space shuttle, the military’s space plane’s mission is almost totally secret, which has led to speculation the strange craft is actually a weapon.
“While no more specifics have been offered about the X-37B by the Air Force since it began flying the orbital technology test bed…the overall mission seems clear: Lengthy mission allow time for seeing what such a vehicle has to offer in terms of capabilities.”
For the time being, NASA is hoping its super pressure balloon will stay afloat for the next 100 days and the military is keeping quiet on its space plane mission.
[AP Photo/Richard Drew]