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Balloons to help restore Puerto Rico's cell networks

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Google's parent company is set to launch balloons into the Caribbean skies in an attempt to restore telephone networks in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Alphabet Inc., which controls Google, obtained authorization from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy the devices—developed from 2013 as part of a project known as "Loon."

Quote

The balloons are sent 12 miles (20 kilometers) above the Earth's surface, where they can remain autonomously for over 100 days. They are made from a polyethylene canvas the size of a tennis court.

Initially designed to drift, the balloons are now equipped with navigation systems, powered by solar panels, which keep them in a specific area.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-balloo...-networks.html

To track the High Altitude Baloons, go to https://www.flightradar24.com then type HBAL in the Search box.

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Good to hear they are not tethered which I had imagined when I initially heard about this on a news channel LOL, but I'm puzzled as to how they stay in a specific area? In addition to the navigation systems are they equipped with some sort of solar power propulsion also?

Bill

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They tested that technology in New Zealand, I think this is the first time they are launching it in a disaster. They choose us for testing being windy islands in the South Pacific, I am not sure how they navigate either but this one seems to be doing a pretty good job of staying within proximity of Puerto Rico 

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On ‎10‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 0:00 PM, scianoir said:

Good to hear they are not tethered which I had imagined when I initially heard about this on a news channel LOL, but I'm puzzled as to how they stay in a specific area? In addition to the navigation systems are they equipped with some sort of solar power propulsion also?

Bill

For one thing since they are at or above FL510, the very thin atmospheric winds aren't nearly as much of a problem. Yes, apparently they have some sort of solar powered system to help steer them as needed to move them to an area, and then maintain station as closely as possible.

OTOH, given that terrestrial cell towers are rarely over 200', I have to wonder why they didn't physically tether them around 150' to 200'. :huh:

Currently HBAL017 is at FL597 drifting slowly NNW at 7 knots:

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Oh I hadn't considered the winds at that level were insignificant but as you say it follows as the atmosphere up there is so thin. Impressive technology!

Now the only thing is to make sure nothing significant is flying beneath these tennis court sized polyethylene sheets if/when they burst/descend! But I guess they will have thought of that too.

Bill 

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