There’s sky-soaring fear and drama in ballooning as evidenced by recent jet fighter shoot downs of airborne objects over Alaska, Canada, and Lake Huron.

Then there’s that earlier Chinese mega-balloon puncturing event, described by top U.S. policy wonks and lawmakers as a spy surveillance system, one that violated American sovereignty and sullied international law. More than 40 countries, those officials say, have also been on the receiving end of similar trespassing technology lofted by China over the years.

From China with Love: Chinese “spy balloon” is observed from above in this full resolution image reportedly taken by a U-2 aircraft. Image credit/Twitter via StratoCat; Chris Pocock/Dragon Lady Today


Pico balloon?

It is possible that one object blasted out of the sky over the Yukon might have been what’s called a “pico balloon.”

Popular pico balloon is launched.
Image credit: Jim Langsted/EOSS

Pico balloon is launched toting mini-payload..
Image credit: Jim Langsted/EOSS

In the do-it-yourself pico-ballooning world, Mylar balloons are typically used to tote to altitude a small amateur radio beacon payload for multi-day flights, even on global circumnavigations. Customized for hobbyist atmospheric exploration, pico balloons can reach heights of 30,000 to 50,000 feet.
























Go to my new Scientific American story – “Did the Pentagon Shoot Down a Harmless Ham-Radio Balloon? – Surging numbers of small research balloons increase the odds of airborne mistaken identity—and harsher regulations” – at:


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