Published: 2020-07-14 05:12:00
Updated: 2020-07-14 08:11:14
By Jessica Patrick, WRAL multiplatform producer
Chapel Hill, N.C. — A Google Loon balloon was tracking east over central North Carolina Tuesday morning.
At 4:30 a.m., balloon HBAL227 was west of Chapel Hill moving at about 40 mph at an altitude of just over 51,000 feet. At 5 a.m., it was close to Cary and Morrisville. By 8 a.m., it was north of New Bern.
According to the Loon website, the balloons, which resemble jellyfish, are essentially cell towers redesigned to be light and durable enough to be carried in the air.
"Loon balloons are designed and manufactured to endure the harsh conditions in the stratosphere, where winds can blow over 100 km/hr, and temperatures can drop as low as -90° C," the website reads.
The balloons travel around the world to provide internet to communities in need. In 2017, Loon balloons were used to provide internet to parts of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria knocked out cell towers.
According to Loon, any LTE-enabled device can connect to the internet via balloons.