The incursions of the shot down 'unidentified flying objects'... I have a theory

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SplitRz

Senior Airman
365
583
Feb 6, 2021
Interesting that in the news reports, the boffins as yet seem to have no idea what keeps these things up. I have a theory. I'm no scientist, but I'd be interested if those of you with the relevant smarts could pass your half-moon specs over this...


"
The latest object - shot down over Lake Huron in Michigan near the Canadian border - has been described by defence officials as an unmanned "octagonal structure" with strings attached to it.

It was downed by a missile fired from an F-16 fighter jet at 14:42 local time (19:42 GMT).
The incident raises further questions about the spate of high-altitude objects that have been shot down over North America this month.

US Northern Command Commander General Glen VanHerck said that there was no indication of any threat.
"I'm not going to categorise them as balloons. We're calling them objects for a reason," he said.
"What we are seeing is very, very small objects that produce a very, very low radar cross-section," he added.
Speculation as to what the objects may be has intensified in recent days.

"I will let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out," Gen VanHerck said when asked if it was possible the objects are aliens or extra-terrestrials.
"I haven't ruled out anything at this point."
 
There is a potential mechanism for flight for something operating like this, perhaps?


Ballooning, sometimes called kiting, is a process by which spiders, and some other small invertebrates, move through the air by releasing one or more gossamer threads to catch the wind, causing them to become airborne at the mercy of air currents and electric fields. A 2018 study concluded that electric fields provide enough force to lift spiders in the air, and possibly elicit ballooning behavior.

I have a feeling that these objects may be using an upscaled version of the same - and are (of course!) entirely terrestrial in nature.


Having never evolved wings, many species of spider instead evolved an uncanny ability to take to the skies using nothing more than a few short threads of gossamer dangling from their dainty butts.

Just how this invertebrate answer to paragliding works has never been entirely clear, though historically biologists have assumed it probably has something to do with swirling eddies of warming air close to Earth's surface.

An alternative suggestion is gaining attention, however, as evidence piles up in support of a rather steampunk mechanism. Instead of riding thermals, spiders might instead sail into the sky on tides of electricity.

Studies conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in 2018 showed electric fields generated by weather activity could sufficiently drag a single electrostatically-charged strand of web and its aeronautical arachnid off the ground.

Now, a new study modeling the mathematics behind the electromagnetic interactions on multiple dangling spider threads has contributed important new details to the discussion.

This isn't to say electric charges are necessarily responsible for the phenomenon scientists refer to as ballooning, either wholly or partially. But it does answer a bunch of questions on the actual physics at work.

The fact spiders can add a slight charge to their webs in order to catch prey (and potentially pick up pollutants) has been a focus of experimental studies for some time now.

Unfortunately, measuring the electrostatic activity of a short drift of thread is a lot harder to do under laboratory conditions.

So researchers kept things simple, by using simple modeling to determine how a single electrostatically charged thread spun from a spider's bum might interact with an atmosphere's own weakly charged field.

In reality, ballooning spiders can spin two, three, or even dozens of fine strands to get them up, up, and away. Just how each thread, coated in negatively-charged material, might interact with other threads is an open question.

To explore that question, physicists Charbel Habchi from Notre Dame University-Louaize in Lebanon, and Mohammad K. Jawed from the University of California, Los Angeles, combined measurements from previous studies with an algorithm commonly used in computerized graphics to trace hair.

Attaching between two and eight virtual hairs to a 2-millimeter-wide sphere that represented a tiny species of spider, they could tweak a range of variables such as the distribution of charge, atmospheric electric fields, and air resistance, and watch it fly.

At first, the threads all remained more or less vertical. But as the simulations unfolded, the negative charges along the threads pushed apart, expanding the collection of strands into an inverted cone-shape.

This in turn slowed their ascent, causing them to drop and the strands to collect together again, making tension between electrostatic repulsion and atmospheric drag an important factor in determining the thread-count of a spider balloon.

"We think that, at least for small spiders, the electric field, without any help from upward air currents, can cause ballooning," Habchi told Rachel Berkowitz at Physics.
 
If I'm correct, can I have a special Global Scoop Award for sharing this on WW2aircraft.net?
(If I'm wrong, I shall of course slink back into the shadows and blame it on aliens technology or a disinformation campaign to discredit me ... If I AM right, please don;t tell the men in black to take me away - unless of course they're going to offer me a nice job in some innovations laboratory))
 
In yesterday's Business and Commercial Aviation Digest (BCA Digest) online version:

Hobby Club's Missing Balloon Feared Shot Down By USAF
Steve Trimble February 16, 2023
A small, globe-trotting balloon declared "missing in action" by an Illinois-based hobbyist club on Feb. 15 has emerged as a candidate to explain one of the three mystery objects shot down by four heat-seeking missiles launched by U.S. Air Force fighters since Feb. 10.

The club—the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB)—is not pointing fingers yet.

But the circumstantial evidence is at least intriguing. The club's silver-coated, party-style, "pico balloon" reported its last position on Feb. 10 at 38,910 ft. off the west coast of Alaska, and a popular forecasting tool—the HYSPLIT model provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—projected the cylindrically shaped object would be floating high over the central part of the Yukon Territory on Feb. 11. That is the same day a Lockheed Martin F-22 shot down an unidentified object of a similar description and altitude in the same general area.

There are suspicions among other prominent members of the small, pico-ballooning enthusiasts' community, which combines ham radio and high-altitude ballooning into a single, relatively affordable hobby.

"I tried contacting our military and the FBI—and just got the runaround—to try to enlighten them on what a lot of these things probably are. And they're going to look not too intelligent to be shooting them down," says Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions (SBS), a Silicon Valley company that makes purpose-built pico balloons for hobbyists, educators and scientists.

The descriptions of all three unidentified objects shot down Feb. 10-12 match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type.

"I'm guessing probably they were pico balloons," said Tom Medlin, a retired FedEx engineer and co-host of the Amateur Radio Roundtable show. Medlin has three pico balloons in flight in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Aviation Week contacted a host of government agencies, including the FBI, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the National Security Council (NSC) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for comment about the possibility of pico balloons. The NSC did not respond to repeated requests. The FBI and OSD did not acknowledge that harmless pico balloons are being considered as possible identities for the mystery objects shot down by the Air Force.

"I have no update for you from NORAD on these objects," a NORAD spokesman says.
On Feb. 15, NSC spokesman John Kirby told reporters all three objects "could just be balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose," but he did not mention the possibility of pico balloons.

Launching high-altitude, circumnavigational pico balloons has emerged only within the past decade. Meadows and his son Lee discovered it was possible to calculate the amount of helium gas necessary to make a common latex balloon neutrally buoyant at altitudes above 43,000 ft. The balloons carry an 11-gram tracker on a tether, along with HF and VHF/UHF antennas to update their positions to ham radio receivers around the world. At any given moment, several dozen such balloons are aloft, with some circling the globe several times before they malfunction or fail for other reasons. The launch teams seldom recover their balloons.

The balloons can come in several forms. Some enthusiasts still use common, Mylar party balloons, with a set of published calculations to determine the amount of gas to inject. But the round-shaped Mylar balloons often are unable to ascend higher than 20,000-30,000 ft., so some pico balloonists have upgraded to different materials.
Medlin says he uses a foil balloon sold by Japanese company Yokohama for $12. The material has proven to be resilient for long periods at high altitude, he says, even if the manufacturer never intended the balloon to be used for that purpose. An alternative is Meadows' SBS, which makes a series of balloons designed specially for circumnavigational flights.

The pico-ballooning community is nervous about the negative attention by some members of Congress and the White House, who have called the objects shot down at altitudes of 20,000-40,000 ft. dangerous to civil aviation.
"We did assess that their altitudes were considerably lower than the Chinese high-altitude balloon and did pose a threat to civilian commercial air traffic," Kirby says. "And while we have no specific reason to suspect that they were conducting surveillance of any kind, we couldn't rule that out."

In fact, the pico balloons weigh less than 6 lb. and therefore are exempt from most FAA airspace restrictions, Meadows and Medlin said. Three countries—North Korea, Yemen and the UK—restrict transmissions from balloons in their airspace, so the community has integrated geofencing software into the tracking devices. The balloons still overfly the countries, but do not transmit their positions over their airspace.

The community is also nervous that their balloons could be shot down next. Medlin says one of his balloons—call sign W5KUB-112—is projected by HYSPLIT to enter U.S. airspace on Feb. 17. It already circumnavigated the globe several times, but its trajectory last carried the object over China before it will enter either Mexican or U.S. airspace.
"I hope," Medlin said, "that in the next few days when that happens we're not real trigger-happy and start shooting down everything."

What Is a Pico Balloon?

Pico balloons are typically about 3 ft. in diameter on the ground before they are launched. As they ascend to altitudes of 20,000-50,000 ft., the super-pressure balloon envelope expands by about 2-3 times in size and achieves neutral buoyancy, allowing them to float at a roughly consistent altitude. Wind currents then push them through the atmosphere, with some balloons capable of circling the world several times before they pop or fall.

The balloon owners keep track of them through HF and VHF/UHF radio links. A small GPS tracking device is attached to the balloon by a tether. The balloon broadcasts its position using the WSPR protocol on HF and the ASPR standard for line-of-sight on VHF/UHF. Most pico balloons lack the lifting power to carry batteries, so the tracking coordinates usually are broadcast in daylight hours, with tiny attached solar arrays sending power to the transmitter.
 
There is a potential mechanism for flight for something operating like this, perhaps?


Ballooning, sometimes called kiting, is a process by which spiders, and some other small invertebrates, move through the air by releasing one or more gossamer threads to catch the wind, causing them to become airborne at the mercy of air currents and electric fields. A 2018 study concluded that electric fields provide enough force to lift spiders in the air, and possibly elicit ballooning behavior.

I have a feeling that these objects may be using an upscaled version of the same - and are (of course!) entirely terrestrial in nature.


Having never evolved wings, many species of spider instead evolved an uncanny ability to take to the skies using nothing more than a few short threads of gossamer dangling from their dainty butts.

Just how this invertebrate answer to paragliding works has never been entirely clear, though historically biologists have assumed it probably has something to do with swirling eddies of warming air close to Earth's surface.

An alternative suggestion is gaining attention, however, as evidence piles up in support of a rather steampunk mechanism. Instead of riding thermals, spiders might instead sail into the sky on tides of electricity.

Studies conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in 2018 showed electric fields generated by weather activity could sufficiently drag a single electrostatically-charged strand of web and its aeronautical arachnid off the ground.

Now, a new study modeling the mathematics behind the electromagnetic interactions on multiple dangling spider threads has contributed important new details to the discussion.

This isn't to say electric charges are necessarily responsible for the phenomenon scientists refer to as ballooning, either wholly or partially. But it does answer a bunch of questions on the actual physics at work.

The fact spiders can add a slight charge to their webs in order to catch prey (and potentially pick up pollutants) has been a focus of experimental studies for some time now.

Unfortunately, measuring the electrostatic activity of a short drift of thread is a lot harder to do under laboratory conditions.

So researchers kept things simple, by using simple modeling to determine how a single electrostatically charged thread spun from a spider's bum might interact with an atmosphere's own weakly charged field.

In reality, ballooning spiders can spin two, three, or even dozens of fine strands to get them up, up, and away. Just how each thread, coated in negatively-charged material, might interact with other threads is an open question.

To explore that question, physicists Charbel Habchi from Notre Dame University-Louaize in Lebanon, and Mohammad K. Jawed from the University of California, Los Angeles, combined measurements from previous studies with an algorithm commonly used in computerized graphics to trace hair.

Attaching between two and eight virtual hairs to a 2-millimeter-wide sphere that represented a tiny species of spider, they could tweak a range of variables such as the distribution of charge, atmospheric electric fields, and air resistance, and watch it fly.

At first, the threads all remained more or less vertical. But as the simulations unfolded, the negative charges along the threads pushed apart, expanding the collection of strands into an inverted cone-shape.

This in turn slowed their ascent, causing them to drop and the strands to collect together again, making tension between electrostatic repulsion and atmospheric drag an important factor in determining the thread-count of a spider balloon.

"We think that, at least for small spiders, the electric field, without any help from upward air currents, can cause ballooning," Habchi told Rachel Berkowitz at Physics.

Nothing a 5"/38 can't handle.
 
If I'm correct, can I have a special Global Scoop Award for sharing this on WW2aircraft.net?
(If I'm wrong, I shall of course slink back into the shadows and blame it on aliens technology or a disinformation campaign to discredit me ... If I AM right, please don;t tell the men in black to take me away - unless of course they're going to offer me a nice job in some innovations laboratory))
The job they offer might not be one you would want.
 
The (mostly) unasked question:
Why in the world-wide world did We allow a Chinese recon balloon to traverse our continent unobstructed for about 4,000 miles in eight days--and do nothing until it was offshore?
When now...
we're hosing things that WE CAN'T EVEN IDENTIFY.
My Vietnam "fighter jet" buds are really cranky, since they lived (and their friends often died) under onerous Rules of Engagement.
Consensus: the current administration realizes it screwed up royally and is trying to play catch-up
by hosing things that WE CAN'T EVEN IDENTIFY.
And youbethca--it's repetitious.
 
Actually, any reasonably competent person would shoot them down.

Apparently, there have been balloons of various sorts flying over the US and other countries for the last few years (at least) that no one took particular account of. Some of them were retroactively confirmed as coming from China and have been identified as similar to the Chinese spy balloon we shot down. The latest reports say there were at least 3 under the Trump administration and 2 (including the 1 just shot down) under the Biden administration. After the fact, intel/sensor records was able to track them from their ~origins.

The other 3 objects recently shot down could have been some other form of intelligence gathering platform. It was determined that they were not manned and in fact could not be manned platforms, so shooting them down carried no risk of harm to humans (unless struck by debris on the ground).

If it turns out that 1 or more of the last 3 are hobbyist balloons, while it is unfortunate that they were shot down, in reality it is of no consequence. If the hobbyists were wronged - ie if it was actually OK for their platforms to be floating around at altitudes where some civil aircraft operate, and if the hobbyists were keeping track, informing the FAA/NORAD, filing flight plans (if necessary?) for their platforms - then they can apply for monetary recompense from the government.

While I do not know the laws regarding un-piloted objects floating around in our or any other country's airspace, I personally think allowing such uncontrolled and unmonitored flights is extremely irresponsible (in several ways).

Unfortunately, on the political front, it is a no win situation from the opposition viewpoint. When the current administration did not immediately shoot down the now proven to be Chinese spy balloon, they screamed 'why is it not being shot down?/why was it not shot down sooner?/Biden is weak on China!', when to the screamer's knowledge it had not been positively identified as a spy balloon. A couple of the talking heads even suggested that they might be carrying bio-weapons. Now that the other 3 objects have been shot down they are screaming that it was wrong to shoot these items down without first positively identifying them. How the F are you supposed to positively ID them as non-intel gathering/non-bio-weapon armed platforms? At 40,000 ft how slow can an airplane fly - 300 mph TAS? How do you positively ID them? - do you have X-ray sunglasses - which you would need to see what is inside the item suspended from/attached to at least 2 of the 3 objects.

They made fly-bys and took pictures so they could determine the general shape and size. There were no LED signs saying 'don't shoot, we are neutral hobbyist balloon XYZ launched by XYZ hobbyist club, if found please call 555-xxx-xxxx and we will confirm ID'.
 
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According to the History Guy (Shooting Balloons) meteorologists worldwide launch 900-1500 weather balloons PER DAY! That's 300,000 to 500,000 per year! According to his video, many of the sightings during the "UFO-Flying saucer craze" from 1947-1955 were due to secret projects the air force was conducting. These were to detect trace radioisotopes in the upper atmosphere to determine if anyone else (i.e. the Soviet Union) had exploded a nuclear weapon above ground. Apparently, the Air Force was OK with all the rumors and hysteria about flying saucers rather than reveal the existence of these secret projects. The short video is well worth watching.
 
Riiiight. That's just what They want you to believe. I've been to the museum in Roswell. And I own the original issues 1-4 Roswell: Little Green Man illustrated history. Safely secured in polarized plastic bags, backed with acid free cardstock, and bearing the imprimatur of the Roswell comic book store.
 
Riiiight. That's just what They want you to believe. I've been to the museum in Roswell. And I own the original issues 1-4 Roswell: Little Green Man illustrated history. Safely secured in polarized plastic bags, backed with acid free cardstock, and bearing the imprimatur of the Roswell comic book store.
aliens.jpg
 

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