This 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.
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, sorry America.)
You can check out the map right here—and reassure yourself that sometimes what you’re seeing really is just a weather balloon.