The picture above showing us getting things ready gives an idea of the size of the payload package and more or less what the parachute looks like. The payload package is made of several disks of thick styrofoam material, while the parachute is 6 feet in diameter and is made of red and blue rip-stop nylon. The cameras are mounted on the side, top, and bottom, and the wire antenna is about 2 feet long. It’s all held together with duct tape, string, and other reinforcing material.
Once released the balloon followed a path that took it southeast from Kauffman Stadium toward my home in Lee’s Summit. We were following the balloon descent in cars while tracking it in real-time and were just passing through Lee’s Summit on Highway 50 when we lost the signal. We spent a lot of time driving around south of the area where we lost the signal, and also closer to the Quarry near Lee’s Summit and Lake Lotawana but were unable to spot anything from the road. We drove around the latter area because the winds that day were blowing from the southeast and it is possible that the payload did not make it to its calculated landing spot south of Lone Jack, MO. I even flew over the area with a local pilot in a small plane but was unable to spot anything.
Given the wooded areas surrounding the calculated landing sites it is possible that the payload, antennas, and parachute got caught in a tree. And after this much time the parachute colors may have faded.
Balloon Kam Search
Here is where the search comes in. Google Earth has updated the imagery for this area with the images in higher resolution and are as recent as this past September 2 2012. This means it is possible that the parachute and payload may be spotted from scanning the Google Earth display. This screen capture shows the detail one can see from an altitude setting of around 700 feet. It is possible to zoom down even further before the image becomes too pixelated and still see detail.
This graphic shows the original flight path as calculated the morning of the flight. The blue color indicates the ascent and the red color is the descent. The payload may have landed anywhere within the circles or somewhere along the descent path. Or it may be somewhere between this area and west toward the new possible landing spots. The winds were out of the southeast and blowing toward the west-northwest direction.
To help in the search here is a link to a small file that may be downloaded and opened with Google Earth. It shows the possible landing locations after the flight path calculations were redone using different algorithms and weather data from the actual flight time as opposed to the weather data we used from the morning of the launch. If a location is suspected as a possible sighting use a ‘push-pin’ to mark its location. Then either save this as a Google Earth file and e-mail to me, or e-mail me the coordinates.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.