Identify location of 'selfie with Chinese spy balloon' taken by Air Force pilot

In late January 2023,

a Chinese spy balloon was spotted flying over the mainland United States. The balloon was eventually shot down by an American F-22 on February 4th. After shooting down the balloon, the US Department of Defense has released a self-portrait photograph taken by a spy balloon flying in the airspace and a pilot on a reconnaissance aircraft U-2 , but this 'Self-portrait with a spy balloon' A person who succeeded in identifying the shooting location has appeared from the photograph taken.

How to geolocate the photo of a spy plane flying over China's spy balloon : NPR

Below is a selfie with a spy balloon taken by a U-2 pilot in the cockpit. This self-portrait was released by the US Department of Defense on February 22, 2023, and the Department of Defense said that the photo was ``legendary (within the department).''

NPR Science Desk editor Geoff Brumfiel has identified the location where this selfie was taken. “We have successfully located a Chinese spy balloon selfie, which was taken on February 3 as the balloon flew south of Bellflower, Missouri. Approximate location is 38°58'07.7'N 91°20'57.6'W ,' he tweeted.

Mr. Brumfiel pays attention to the area (the yellow frame part of the first tweet) reflected in the lower left of the selfie. The second and third photos are close-ups of this part, explaining that they succeeded in identifying the location from the positional relationship of the characteristic reservoir (yellow) and agricultural supply company (red). .

In order to identify the shooting location of the selfie, Mr. Brumfiel seems to have first roughly examined where the Chinese spy balloon flew. A screenshot of the flight path of the spy balloon attached to the tweet is from the flight path of the spy balloon reported by WSIL News 3 .

Next, in an attempt to identify distinctive terrain in the selfie, I focus on the river (red) and what looks like thick clouds on the horizon (yellow). Subsequently, when I examined the satellite photograph of the day (February 3) when the self-portrait was taken with the satellite photograph service Sentinel Hub , I succeeded in discovering a similar thick cloud. From here it is concluded that the river reflected in the photograph is the Mississippi River.

Upon further analysis of the photo for more specific details, we discover a Y-shaped tributary or irrigation canal of the Mississippi River outlined in yellow. In addition, you can see that there are bridges and dam-like things around this Y shape.

Based on this information, when I searched the vicinity of the Mississippi River with Google Earth, I found something that seems to be a characteristic Y-shaped tributary around the Mississippi River. In addition, we also found a sluice gate and a dam , and succeeded in identifying the location of this Y-shaped river.

Continuing, Brumfiel also noticed that US 61 (yellow) runs parallel to the Mississippi River. We have also succeeded in identifying its position from the characteristic curve of US 61.

Based on the positional relationship between the Mississippi River and US 61, the rough location of the Chinese spy balloon was identified as follows.

From here, Mr. Brumfiel, referring to the tweets of volunteers who are already trying to identify the shooting location of the selfie with the spy balloon on Twitter, the shooting location is ' 38°58'07.7'N 91°20'57.6' It is identified as being around W.

The altitude of U-2, which shot the spy balloon, is about 70,000 feet (about 21 km), and since the self-portrait is taken looking down on the spy balloon, Mr. Brumfiel said that the Department of Defense's 'spy balloon was flying at an altitude of about 60,000 feet.'

In addition, Chris Combs, a professor of aerodynamics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said from the shadow of U-2 reflected in the balloon, ``U-2 has a total length of about 65 feet (19.8 meters), and this shadow is the balloon. Given that it is about half the diameter of the balloon, the distance between the balloon and U-2 is calculated to be less than 130 feet (about 40 meters), ”as pointed out by open source intelligence. Brumfiel points out that the details of shooting the balloon are gradually becoming clearer.

In addition, Mr. Brumfiel wrote, 'There is only one question that is not clear from the analysis of self-portraits. What was the Chinese spy balloon doing while flying in the center of the United States?'

in Note, Posted by logu_ii