If you point your browser to Flightradar24.com and zoom off the coast of New Zealand, you’ll see 7 slow moving aircraft: these are actually helium balloons, part of Google’s Project Loon, broadcasting their position, speed, altitude etc. via Mode-S ADS-B. Project Loon is a research and development project whose aim is to provide Internet access to everyone, even if they live in rural and remote areas.
Google’s Project Loon was unveiled in 2013 as an ambitious project to bring internet to some of the most remote parts of the world where it’s hard to get Internet access. The project’s still in full swing and you’re now able to track the balloons in real time as they travel the world. The helium balloons can now be tracked in real time using Flightradar24′s service, which shows a group of them being launched near Timaru, New Zealand and drifting out to sea at around 162 feet off the surface. The balloons are moving quite quickly at a rate of around 41 kilometers an hour at time of writing.