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Google balloons are mistaken for UFOs

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 6 ene 2020, 3:24 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 1 sept 2020, 7:21 ]
On Thursday, January 2, around 17:00 o’clock, the eyes of thousands of people rose up to the sky in the Metropolitan Region to watch a strange object that was slowly flying on a sunny and clear day, thinking that they were in the presence of an unidentified flying object (UFO).
A Google's Project Loon balloon, completely inflated. When flying over cities at an altitude of more than 15 kilometers, it can confuse watcher on the ground who believe to be in the presence of a UFO.

When close to the surface, a Google's Project Loon balloon looks like this. The purpose of the devices is to take Internet signal to isolated places.

The flight tracking software FlightRadar24 demonstrates that on the afternoon of Thursday, January 2, three Google's Project Loon balloons flew over the Metropolitan Region at an altitude of more than 15 kilometers.
Right away, photographs and videos began to emerge through social media, along with opinions and comments.

However, wiser users used software tools to solve the enigma and found out that not one, but three balloons from Google’s Project Loon were flying around Santiago, to provide Internet signal to isolated places.


The three balloons came from the West, from the Pacific Ocean, with a trajectory to the East and lightly to the South that, after taking them to the Metropolitan Region, took them over the mountains and into Argentina's territory.

The balloon with a Southeast trajectory, near Melipilla, had the ID HBAL795 and was flying at 51,500 feet high (15.7 kilometers). A little further North there passed the balloon with ID HBAL744, flying at 51,700 feet (15.75 kilometers), while through the Northeast part of Santiago there flew a balloon with the ID HBAL789, at 51,500 feet (15.7 kilometers).

So, the balloons flew at high altitude and above the flight level of commercial airplanes and other aircraft.

Previous cases

Given their height, the balloons looked simply like a point or small ball in the sky, so to identify them as balloons with the naked eye wasn’t an easy task. However, thanks to the technological tools available they could be identified almost immediately.

In previous decades, the passing of balloons also generated “UFO” sightings, but in those cases to identify them was more difficult and took much longer. 

A “UFO” in 1985

On Saturday, August 17, 1985, after 15:00 o’clock, tens of thousands of people watched what looked like a silvery sphere moving slowly through the sky on a clear day. Even though the newspapers mentioned the possibility that it could have been a meteorological balloon, it could not be found where it came from or who owned it, so the sighting remained officially unexplained and up until now many label it as a “UFO”.

However, an investigation by Uruguayan researcher Luis Eduardo Pacheco several years later (regarding a similar sighting in Argentina exactly a month later) found out that both cases were generated by a MIR (Montgolfière Infrarouge) balloon launched by France’s National Center of Space Studies (CNES) from South Africa, close to Pretoria.

In a more recent case, on Friday, February 16, 2001, an unexplained flying object was observed around Calama and Antofagasta, in Northern Chile. However, CEFAA’s investigation showed that it was really a stratospheric MIR balloon also launched by the CNES from Bauru, Brazil.