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Loon Balloon Makes Unexpected Descent South Of Atkinson

Loon Balloon Makes Unexpected Descent South Of Atkinson

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The hunt for the big one south of Atkinson led two men to a surprise. Adam Flannery and a friend were out scouting deer before this year's deer season on Friday, Nov. 13

"We were driving down this road and all of a sudden it just appeared out of nowhere. We thought it would go down in the field we were going to hunt in, but it went down across the road. We were very curious as to what it was. The object was huge," said Flannery.

We had no idea what it was and there were phone numbers and info in numerous languages. They tried to call the number in California and no one picked up. We called the Holt County dispatch center and they sent Officer Mincer from the Atkinson Police Department. We couldn't do anymore and left it to the authorities. 

The authorities got an answer when they called and were asked to secure it and Ernie's Body Shop came out and took it to Atkinson. 

What was the mysterious object? It turned out to be a Google Loon Balloon made from polyethylene sheets. They are powered by solar panels and controlled by software on the ground. While up in the air, they act as "floating cell towers," transmitting internet signals to ground stations and personal devices. Many people live in areas where the internet infrastructure hasn't yet reached or where coverage is inadequate or prohibitively expensive.

The balloons themselves are super pressure balloons filled with helium, standing 49 ft. across and 39 ft. tall when fully inflated. They carry a custom air pump system dubbed the "Croce" that pumps in or releases air to ballast the balloon and control its altitude. The balloons can only spend so long aloft, and Loon generally brings them down after 150 days. Technical difficulties like dying batteries shorten the lives of others. But more often than not, it's the wind that's the culprit, merely blowing a balloon out of its service area.Technical info from Wikipedia.


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