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Welcome all to the inaugural Golden Balloon Awards 2014!

We are taking this opportunity to look at some of the greatest feats achieved by our Loon balloons as we wind our way to the end of 2014 and finish landing our fleet for analysis and upgrade. From frosty temperatures to country hoppers, speed demons to masters of endurance, we take a look at some of the records from the project to date. Here we go…

#1 The Marathoner - Launched from New Zealand in July 2014, the Marathoner just kept going and going, reaching 134 days aloft before being brought down to land in Chile. Constantly monitoring such a long-lasting balloon throughout its lifetime has provided us with lots of valuable data that can help us replicate this success in the future.

#2 Global Traveller - While much of our fleet spends its time sweeping around the globe, we decided that one balloon should take its time discovering the Southern Hemisphere. So we packed its bags, gave it some sage travelling advice in the form of our automated control algorithms and sent it on its own little trip around the world - and what a trip it had! Launching from Brazil as part of our LTE test in June 2014, we maneuvered it over 23 separate countries across South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania before finally landing it with a full passport and a balloon full of memories.

#3 Sprint Star - The quickest a Loon balloon has travelled is 324 km/h while rushing to the South Pacific ocean over Antarctica - a similar speed to the world’s fastest animal, a fellow traveller of the skies, the Peregrine Falcon. Like any good sprinter though, this balloon needed to rest up, reducing its speed to a relatively sluggish 67 km/h while travelling over the south of Argentina, and it is this difference in speed that is really important to us. To provide coverage where and when it’s needed will require balloons to whiz over certain areas and linger for longer at others so that there is always a balloon overhead where needed. 

#4 The Frosty Survivor - It can get very, very cold up in the stratosphere. The coldest temperature one of our balloons had to endure was -83°C (-117°F) while travelling over the Chilean/Argentine border. The cold is a real challenge for our balloon manufacturing team. At such low temperatures the balloon envelope can become brittle and fragile. Selecting the right material and stress-testing it at extremely low temperatures in our labs has helped ensure that Loon balloons are durable enough to handle these temperatures for long periods of time.

#5 High-Flier - All Loon balloons fly roughly 20 kilometers above the earth’s surface, twice as high as commercial jets. This high-flier, however, reached our record altitude of 25.8 kilometers while travelling over the South Pacific ocean; nearly three times the height of Mount Everest. Altitude control is fundamental for maneuvering balloons, as different altitudes have different wind speeds and directions which our planning algorithms can predict and use to get our balloons to where they need to be. So, to our high-flier, we salute you for reaching higher than any Loon balloon has ever reached before! 
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Eu estou acompanhando o hbal436 atrevés do fightradar 24 hs e achei super interessante esse projeto.
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+Alan Eustace , come say hi to our Loon balloons next time you're up in the stratosphere!
 
About four years ago, one of our senior VPs, Alan Eustace, started kicking around a new idea: coming up with a way to explore the stratosphere similar to the way scuba divers explore the ocean. He pulled together a small team of scientists and engineers, and they got to work building and testing a system that could carry him high above the earth.

Early this morning, wearing the system he and the team developed -- a custom-made pressurized spacesuit, lifted via a helium-filled balloon -- Alan ascended to 136,000 feet before skydiving safely back down to earth, breaking the sound barrier on his way. He’s the first person to ever ascend to that altitude, and only the second to break the sound barrier outside of an airplane. Crazy, right! All in a day’s work when it comes to furthering scientific exploration...

Read more about the mission here: http://goo.gl/eK3xri
A helium-filled balloon lifted Alan Eustace, a Google executive, to more than 25 miles above the earth. Fifteen minutes after he cut himself loose, he was on the ground.
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+Victor Pearce but does aeroplane fly above earth atmosphere? I don't think so. And these balloons are flying above earth atmosphere 20+ KM i.e in outer space +Project Loon +Google 
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As winter begins in the Southern hemisphere, many Brazilians are sending paper balloons skyward in celebration of Festa Junina, a festival celebrating the winter solstice. Project Loon was honored to join in the festivities this year with our own balloon launch in the rural outskirts of Campo Maior, where we connected Linoca Gayoso, a local school, to the Internet for the first time.

The vast majority of this community doesn’t have Internet or cell service—but the locals know of a few very specific spots around town where they might find a weak signal. So if you see them sitting in trees, you’ll know why. (In fact, they have a word for this—‘vaga-lume,’ which means ‘fireflying,’ in English—because at night that’s what the glow from their mobile phones looks like.) But with the Project Loon team in town and one of our balloons overhead, the students in Tiao’s geography class were able to get to the Internet from their classroom for the first time as they learned about world cultures. 

This test flight marked a few significant ‘firsts’ for Project Loon as well. Launching near the equator taught us to overcome more dramatic temperature profiles, dripping humidity and scorpions. And we tested LTE technology for the first time; this could enable us to provide an Internet signal directly to mobile phones, opening up more options for bringing Internet access to more places.

Check out these photos for a behind-the-scenes look on how it all came together.
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It's a great project. 
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We’re honored that Project Loon has been nominated for TechCrunch’s Crunchies Award for Best Technology Achievement of 2013. If you’d like to vote, you can do so here.
 
After an onslaught of worthy nominations, TechCrunch and our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, are proud to announce the the 7th Annual Crunchies Awards finalists. Go vote for your favorites now! http://trib.al/YjBdAXB
After a rush of nominations, TechCrunch and our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, are proud to announce the the 7th Annual Crunchies Awards finalists. The full..
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Light up.
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Because you gave Cyrus’s first #AskAway about the Loon antenna such a great reception, we thought we’d follow it up with another antenna-themed Ask Away: about great reception! In this Ask Away, Cyrus explains how the Loon antennas are designed to maintain a consistently clear signal, despite the fact that the balloons are rotating as they travel across the sky.  
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Hello 
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Would you like to help us improve the Loon experience? Project Loon would love to hear from you. We’re looking for folks in rural parts of California’s Central Valley, Central Coast, North Bay, South Bay and East Bay, who are willing to participate in a 90-minute, in-person study.

If you’re interested, please fill out this brief survey: http://goo.gl/LkxoG3 . We’ll follow up with you directly if you're selected to participate.
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I'm in Northern Ontario, Canada and the Internet is fine in the city, however, every summer we work with tiny remote communities in the Far North and Internet connection is patchy at best. Any one on a VOIP system (and many are because the terrain and distance mean running any kind of cable is nearly impossible) is down as soon as there is any kind of weather. I could give you a list of communities to do beta tests. 
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3 million kilometers is a long journey. That distance would take you around the earth 75 times, or get you to the moon and back nearly 4 times over. It also happens to be the distance our Loon balloons have travelled through the stratosphere since the project began last year.

In that time we’ve learned a great deal about what it will take to bring the Internet to everyone, no matter where they are. For example, what footwear is it best for our manufacturing team to wear when they need to walk on the balloon envelopes? Turns out it’s very fluffy socks, the fluffier the better, to ensure the least amount of friction when building our balloons. This is just one of the hundreds of discoveries that has helped prevent leaks and refine our automated manufacturing process so that our balloons now last 10 times longer in the stratosphere than they did in 2013, with many lasting 100 days or more (our current record is 130 days!).

It’s one thing for our balloons to last longer, but to build a ring of connectivity around the world we’ll also need to get more in the air. Imagine how long it would take you and your friends to inflate 7,000 party balloons. That’s what it takes to fill just one of our Loon balloons for flight, so we’ve developed autofill equipment that will be capable of doing it in under 5 minutes. We now have the ability to launch up to 20 balloons per day as we continue to improve our ability to launch consistently at scale.

As we’ve launched more long-lasting balloons in the stratosphere we’ve needed to ensure that we can accurately maneuver them to where they need to go. By constantly computing thousands of trajectory simulations it turns out we can get pretty close to our targets.  For example, one flight came within 1.5km of our target destination over a flight of 9,000 kilometers, purely through predicting and sailing with the stratospheric winds. This is great for getting our balloons to where users need them, and great for getting balloons to our recovery zones at the end of their lifetime to make our recovery team’s job that much easier.

But perhaps one of the best illustrations of the progress we’ve made in our journey thus far are these pictures showing one of our uber-sophisticated launches from the earliest days of Project Loon compared to one of our more recent efforts. What a difference 3 million kilometers make; here’s to many more! 
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No one has experienced the Loon team’s commitment to balloon recovery as intensely as team member Nick Kohli, who despite being pretty seasick once manned a small fishing vessel in the choppy swells off of New Zealand’s South Island two days in a row so he could quickly collect any balloons we decided to bring down right off the coast. Since then, our recovery efforts have come a long way. In this edition of the #askaway series, Nick explains a bit more about how balloon recovery works.

Balloon recovery is so important to Project Loon that we have an entire team dedicated to recovering balloons. Before we bring the balloons we forecast how long they’ll last and plan accordingly. As +Mike Trieu  correctly surmised on the Loon Plus page a few months ago, Loon balloons are equipped with a GPS device so our team can track the balloons, know where they land and go and pick them up. 

Making sure we recover our balloons is the right thing to do for the environment, but it’s also vital to the success of our project. Each balloon is its own scientific experiment designed to test various aspects of Loon technology so we can create the best possible system. Recovering the balloons allows us to analyze them in depth and learn as much as possible from each one, which then allows us to rapidly develop our stratospheric balloon technology. 
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This may be answered already : What if the balloon falls in restricted area? :D Will it be transmitting data while its flying over restricted area unnoticed ?
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We recently got wind of a neat supercomputer visualization of global weather conditions. If you click on the “earth” label on the bottom left, and then modify the “height” parameter to 70 hPa, you’ll see what the winds look like at the altitudes where Loon flies. The polar vortex, which has been bringing record cold and snowfall to the US lately, looks especially fierce!
an animated map of global weather conditions
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O projeto Loon vai tornar-se realidade e humanizar o acesso à internet. Parabéns à equipe do Google !
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Interested in trying your hand at building your own high-altitude balloon? From April 18 - 21, Loon balloons may have some company in the stratosphere: The Global Space Balloon Challenge is an international project to encourage teams from all over the world to build and launch their own high altitude balloons in order to promote the spirit of hardware hacking and international STEM collaboration. Check out the details on their website -- and we hope to see you at 60,000 ft!
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Nu
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Happy New Year!  There’s nothing like a new year to inspire reflection on times past. We invite you to join us for a short tour of Project Loon’s technological origins. It’s been an exciting few years and we appreciate all of your support.

We’re looking forward to what we’ll do together in 2014.
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I really want Loon to succeed. I talk myself into making more purchases in the Play store by saying, "The more money Google has, the more they'll put in to Project Loon!"
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Thank you +muthu lakshmi for inquiring about what happens when Loon balloons need to be brought down ahead of schedule. Parachuting is trickier at higher altitudes because the air is thinner, so there’s less for the parachute to grab onto as the balloon descends. So why not make the parachute larger? Turns out, the additional weight would require a bigger balloon to carry it, which would then require an even bigger parachute to safely catch that bigger balloon, which would then require an even bigger balloon to carry that bigger parachute… Sam, an aerospace engineer on Loon, explains the engineering that’s gone into resolving this parachute paradox.
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Bonjour je vous saluer vous tous
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Balloon-powered Internet for everyone.
Introduction
Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to provide Internet coverage for people in rural and remote areas, help fill in coverage gaps and bring people back online after disasters. google.com/loon