Google's project loon balloon circles the world in a record 22 days
The Ibis-167 completes a 500,000 km journey
The first predictions made for Google's Project Loon was that the WiFi broadcasting balloons could feasibly circle the world in 33 days – a feat the Ibis-167 accomplished in a surprisingly shorter time.
Jumping onto swift air currents and quickly changing altitudes, Project Loon's Ibis-167 was able to beat that time and circumnavigate the world – on the edge of space – in a record 22 days.
"Since last June, we've been using the wind data we've collected during flights to refine our prediction models and are now able to forecast balloon trajectories twice as far in advance. In addition, the pump that moves air in or out of the balloon has become three times more efficient, making it possible to change altitudes more rapidly to quickly catch winds going in different directions." explained the Google Loon team.
Discussing Ibis-167's journey the team added, "There were times, for example, when this balloon could have been pulled into the polar vortex - large, powerful wind currents that whip around in a circle near the stratosphere in the polar region - but these improvements enabled us to maneuver around it and stay on course."