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The Capabilities of High Altitude Balloons

In this MiscDotGeek article, we’re trying something… different. This is an experiment. You know my writing, you know my style. Read the article. Poke holes in it. Why? See at the end (don’t cheat!)

High Altitude Balloons: Unlocking the Potential of Near Space Exploration

From Wikimedia, CC 1.0

Have you ever wondered what the view from the edge of space looks like? With high altitude balloons, now you can find out! These balloons have the capability to lift payloads up to near-space altitudes, offering a unique perspective on the world below. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the capabilities of high altitude balloons and the opportunities they offer for near-space exploration.

What are High Altitude Balloons?

High altitude balloons are weather balloons that are designed to reach the stratosphere, typically at altitudes between 60,000 and 120,000 feet. These balloons are filled with a lighter-than-air gas, such as helium or hydrogen, which allows them to float up to near-space altitudes. At these heights, the balloons are able to capture unique images, data, and other observations that would be difficult to obtain from the ground.

What Can High Altitude Balloons Do?

The main use of high altitude balloons is to conduct scientific experiments and gather data. For example, they can be used to study atmospheric conditions, collect data on weather patterns, and monitor environmental changes. They can also be used for remote sensing, such as monitoring forests and wildlife populations, or to support mapping and surveying efforts. Additionally, high altitude balloons can be used to test new technologies, such as new sensors, communication systems, and even solar panels.

One of the most exciting applications of high altitude balloons is for aerial photography and videography. These balloons can capture stunning images and video footage from near-space altitudes, offering a new perspective on the world below. The balloons can be equipped with cameras and other imaging equipment, and the images and video captured can be used for a wide range of purposes, from scientific research to advertising and marketing.

How Do High Altitude Balloons Work?

High altitude balloons are relatively simple to operate, making them accessible to hobbyists, students, and researchers alike. The balloons are launched into the stratosphere and are equipped with a GPS device, which allows them to be tracked in real-time. The balloons also have a payload, which can be anything from a camera or scientific instrument to a small package of supplies.

Once the balloon reaches its target altitude, it begins to expand, eventually reaching its maximum size. At this point, the balloon bursts, and the payload begins to descend back to Earth using a parachute. The GPS device allows the payload to be tracked and recovered, and the data and images captured can then be analyzed.


High altitude balloons are a powerful tool for near-space exploration and offer a unique perspective on the world below. From scientific research to aerial photography and videography, these balloons have the capability to unlock new opportunities and provide valuable data and insights. Whether you’re a hobbyist, student, or researcher, high altitude balloons offer an exciting and accessible way to explore the edge of space.

The Actual Conclusion

Did something seem off?

It is.

ChatGPT in action

That’s right- I did not write that article. But I did prompt ChatGPT to write it. It’s basically correct if not completely boring and devoid of zest. It looks like a burger, smells like a burger, and even sorta-kinda tastes like one, but you know that patty just doesn’t have the right texture, and the lettuce is beyond wilted. And the bun… are those bagels!?

The style is not in the style of Hackaday at all, and the article feels synthetic. Clearly, ChatGPT is a neat tool, but its no replacement for a human sitting down and writing something engaging. But does that mean it’s useless?

Far from it!

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. ChatGPT wrote an excellent article that a human could compare to their own writing. Maybe ChatGPT came up with a detail that I forgot about, or didn’t think to include. Perhaps its algorithmic ponderings uncovered a flaw in my own article. The point is that ChatGPT might be great as inspiration but it’s no replacement for perspiration: Hard work.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.


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    • Chuck Rothauser on February 12, 2023 at 2:19 PM
    • Reply

    ChatGPT did not disclose the intelligence gathering capabilities of aerostats 🙂

  1. Have experimented writing 2 articles on my hamradio blog. Although I did not tell immidiatly, no one ever noticed. It were als the 2 most read articles last month. I even generated the pictures included in the posts with AI. I think the above article was not too bad. If you didn’t tell probabely no one had ever thought this was made with ChatGPT.

    • Paul on February 12, 2023 at 11:40 PM
    • Reply

    “Once the balloon reaches its target altitude, it begins to expand…”
    Um, no. That’s not at all the way this works. It leaves an amusing mental image, though.

  2. ChatGPT forgot to include the Achilles heel of ham ballooning — one that will probably have to be addressed because of the latest round of “balloons” in the media: If you can’t tell your balloon-borne radio to turn itself off on a moment’s notice — telecommand — then it violates FCC service rules. When it’s geographically outside the US or its territories it violates multiple ham radio licensing jurisdictional laws. When it’s operating unattended on frequencies not approved for such — like most hams’ WSPR and many hams’ FT8 stations — it violates FCC rules for the amateur service. Conclusion: From a regulatory perspective, ham radio balloons are violative and potentially dangerous. Yep. 🙂

  3. Given the events of the past week, and given you cannot squawk in a legal way compliant with your license in all geographies, you are likely to have a F22 on your a*s 🙂

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