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Game: What the heck is this? Answered

Here's a new game! What the heck is this!? This would found in the yard of the tower. It looks like it fell there. Answers should be convincing, but not necessarily correct. Although being correct will probably help you be convincing. I, and maybe some others at Instructables, will judge. If this turns out to be fun, maybe we'll award patches or t-shirts for the most convincing answers. So, what is it?


I checked with the authorities at Area 51a (a small and very secret Air Force Black Ops base just outside Alameda, if nobody answers, leave mail with the flat upstairs). They said:

It is the remains of a UFO that crashed on a nearby Naval base. Sorry, it's a weather balloon that was hit by a cloud of marsh gas. What remains? It's a reflection of Venus off a low-flying lenticular cloud. No comment!

So, there you go - the official word.

Further word from my contact at Area 51b (they had to close down Area 51a when I revealed it's existence - they repainted the front door and everything):

Me: Why would a weather balloon be marked as containing an explosive gas? They use helium, which isn't explosive.

Contact: We would have used helium, but it's expensive - we have hydrogen to spare, especially since we broke the "off" switch of the fusion generator in the bath - we have to offer free refuels to the saucers, sorry, weather balloons, just to get rid of the stuff.

Lol I was asking the same question to myself : why a such warning label when the balloon should be filled with helium, given that hydrogen is potentialy dangerous ... Do they actually use hydrogen ?

Real ones use helium - hydrogen goes bang, and would leak through the balloon membrane too quickly. What other flammable gases are light enough to provide lift? Methane is light, but can barely lift a bubble of soap alone, never mind a payload.

Darn it, westfw beat me too it... the rubber/latex at the bottom is what's left of a weather balloon that burst, and the orangey plastic piece is a parachute to prevent someone's roof or skull from being punctured by a piece of meteorological equipment free-falling from 70,000 ft. CURSE YOU, WESTFW!!! ;-)

We launched a weather balloon from the KSC Visitor Center at a camp this summer. It totaled 115 feet long---A camera and transmitter hung from the bottom, 10 feet up the string was a GPS transmitter, 90 feet up from that we tied a 6 foot diameter weather balloon, and 15 feet up from that was a parachute. The GPS didn't work, but you could see the curvature of the earth at about 75,000 ft. Way cool.

75000 feets ! (22km) Wow ! I did not imagine a weather balloon could go that high ... Do you have some pictures took by this baloon ?

I should, and I wish I did, but I don't. The entire sequence was recorded, and they were supposed to send us copies on DVD, but they never did. I definitely wish they had, though, as it was relatively high-quality, full color footage at about 30 frames/sec. All I have is this picture someone took of the monitor at probably 40,000-50,000 feet. If they ever send the DVD, I'll post a clip or a screenshot.


Oh what a pity they did not ... I would have loved to see that. I'm wondering if it would be possible to DIY ... I mean, we know how to produce H2, there are some cheap video camera, video transmitter, a battery ... I suppose one must require a speciale authorization for a such project ?

It has to be a fairly powerful, low power consumption transmitter--lightweight and compact. Keep in mind that 75,000 ft is over 14 miles, and that's not even counting the wind blowing laterally. It takes a powerful transmitter and a sensitive receiver to talk that far apart. Also, we had to have FAA certification that we were going to launch a whatever-class balloon at exactly 9:00:00, and we had strict regulations about size, weight, and breaking point of the string. We also had some Air Force brass come out to inspect it, since we were technically launching from U.S. Air Force property.

Ok ... then, it's not a DIY project for me :-/ Yeah, i understand it's important to declare a balloon lauch to avoid Air Force surprize and UFOlogists illusions ... Thanks :-)


10 years ago

Please don't throw it in the bin.

Its a weather balloon. It was filled with a gas that had exploding potential, thus the "do not touch".


10 years ago

Simple. It's a parachute, but not for a rocket. It's the parachute from a miniature drag car! The rubber part where the strings are tied is where the chute was connected to the racer at. When the race car completed the 1/4 mile strip, the parachute deployed, slowing the car down. After the race, the chute was simply discarded.


10 years ago

Weather balloons go up and eventually burst. It's relatively common to attach a parachute to whatever equipment they were carrying ("radiosonde") so that it won't hit someone on the head too hard, but you seem to be missing the equipment and the associated tag describing what to do with it. I'd guess that it either it hit someone on the head, or was stolen by BEMs or LGM. Or perhaps some other squid labs person got there first and made away with the interesting bits secretly, and we'll soon see "How to covert found electronic radiosonde into electromagnetic death ray."

Ok, here is my guess ... well, actually it's not a guess as i've found the same thing over my roof last month.

This mysterious red transparent thing with a "Warning" label, with these white long threads and those two white bags, is a redish jellyfish who eaten a sachet of tea, bitten an submarine helium balloon who exploded and propeled away the poor animal through the sky as far as the continent where it landed where we found it ...

I told you it was too easy for me ! =o)

I am guessing that it is a model rocket parachute.

I suppose this game is for the younger audience ? =o)

That seemed too easy for me, so, i suppose (here again) that it must be for a "younger than me" audience ... =o)

Oh ! There is a musunderstood lol
I was talking about the "What the heck is this?" game =o]

Judging also from the tag, it may very well be a weather balloon, with an attached parachute. This would be used for taking high altitude pictures, video, or tracking the balloon path via GPS. The parachute would be for safety, say if the balloon exploded, there would be a greater chance that the equipment would survive.

I guess it's a downed weather ballon, the white thing is the ballon , and the orange plastic is some sort of pocket for carrying the equipment. Thats my guess.