Solar panels on downed Chinese balloon could support advanced radar


From pv magazine USA

In February, a balloon from China was shot down off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The balloon’s surveillance capabilities, outlined in a US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) document, were recently leaked on the Discord chat site by Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Teixeira was charged on April 14 for unlawfully copying and transmitting classified materials.

The Washington Post reports that the leaked document confirmed that the balloon contained enough solar panels to power an advanced form of radar that can generate imagery at night. The surveillance system, known as synthetic aperture radar, can also pierce clouds and thin coverings such as tarps.

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According to the NGA document, the vessel contained 10 kW of solar capacity. This is a similar to the amount of solar capacity one would find on a US residential rooftop array. The balloon also contained a parabolic dish measuring 1.2 meters in diameter, several unidentified sensors, and a possible mast antenna, said the newspaper.

The balloon was downed by a missile fired from a US Air Force jet on Feb. 4. China criticized the United States for its response to the balloon, saying that it is “irresponsible” and a demonstration of “information warfare” against Beijing.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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