back to article How this startup tracked that Chinese spy balloon using AI

Most of us binge Netflix when we're feeling sick. Corey Jaskolski, on the other hand, looks for Chinese spy balloons in satellite imagery. Jaskolski is the CEO and founder of Synthetaic, an AI software startup that traced the journey the balloon took until it was shot down in February off the coast of South Carolina. It did …

  1. VoiceOfTruth

    Oh great.

    Even more spying. I wonder if he will expose American spying. Probably not. Who can forget U2? The Americans hoped it had blown up or had crashed and smashed into a million pieces along with all its spyware. Remember that the next time the USA complains about being spied on.

    1. _Elvi_

      Re: Oh great.

      .. U2 Found your R-12 and R-14 nuke missiles in Cuba, it did. HHHMMMM?

    2. BillyMunny

      Re: Oh great.

      So... what is your complaint? In my most humble opinion, the U2, SR-71, and all of the satellites are my tax money well spent. It is better to know your adversaries and friends than to not know them. And then it comes time to use applied violence, to use it where it needs to be used.

      Tell me, do you believe your country does not spy? And is is spying if people leave an airplane or ship operating out in the open??

      Surveillance is never ever going to stop. Best to find ways to conceal what you intend to keep private.

  2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    98 Red Ballons

    "Traced the balloon's path last month shortly after it was shot down off the coast of South Carolina."

    Straight down I'd imagine, or does he mean while being transported to Area 51?

    Yes, I know ->

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... includes analyzing historical satellite images to "find, every day, where every ship is on earth, where every airplane is ...

    Right ...

    Now, how about putting it to good use? eg: Start looking for Malasyan Airways flight MH370.

    Yes, the one that went missing just over 9 years ago (08/03/2014) with 239 people on-board, over the Indian ocean.

    Or so it is said.

    What's that? There are no images available from that far back?

    Say what? That the world's superpowers (yes, those) don't have satellites that cover the entirety of the world's surface in high detail?


    Carry on then.


    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "Spoiler alert: he's already started in on this."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ... already started in on this.

        Quite so.

        I did not miss it. 8^P

        It is exactly the reason they ... have had a lot of interest from the government ...

        Damage control anyone?


    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Global surveillance

      Let's look at this realistically. The only time you can have 100% surveillance on a location is if you have a satellite in a geostationary orbit above what you're interested in, and you have clear skies.

      Generally speaking, surveillance satellites are in polar or highly inclined orbits, so that they can cover the maximum amount of the Earth's surface. But what this means is that they only pass over one particular area periodically, typically twice in any 24 hour period.

      So, a particular satellite may not have captured any images of MH370, although if you had access to all of the pictures from every global surveillance platform, you may be able to capture a few images of the plane, but it probably depends on the cloud cover at the time.

      What the security forces are interested in are quite often relatively static, so being able to see them once per day (assuming one pass is at night) is often enough to get some idea what is going on. Large balloons, being relatively slow (although I guess this depends on the altitude), are probably quite easy objects to follow. Planes, not so much.

  4. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge


    Ok, where did that go?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes finding a giant white circle on a dark background of the ocean is truly a cutting edge totally novel computer vision problem. I'm still in shock it's possible.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      I think a giant white circle would be a "cloud". A balloon might be no more than a white pixel or two.

      1. Julz

        Balloon ~50m diamiter, image resolution ~50cm => giant circle...

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