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A graphic circulating on social media purporting to show the inverted trajectory of a suspected Chinese spy balloon has raised questions as to why it was not shot down, as weather data shows it is from mainland China.

The US has been tracking the object, which has been over US airspace for several days, but the Pentagon has decided not to shoot it down over safety concerns for people on the ground.

A senior defense official told reporters the Pentagon has “very high confidence” that it was a Chinese high-altitude balloon gathering information about sensitive locations in America, according to the Associated Press. Montana is home to one of America’s three domestic nuclear missile silos.

China has said it is reviewing the reports and has no intention of violating US airspace.

Pentagon and Mystery Balloon
The Pentagon building, shown with an inset of a NOAA chart of the balloon’s probable trajectory toward the United States

On Thursday evening, Dan Satterfield tweeted that he reproduced the balloon’s predicted trajectory using models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to reconstruct the likely path the balloon would have taken in the previous five days before it crashed into Billings was discovered in Montana, given the weather patterns in the northern hemisphere.

Using NOAA’s HYSPLIT model, a system for calculating air packet trajectories, it showed that the balloon’s likely path was via western Canada, Alaska, South Korea and mainland China. news week was able to independently verify the trajectory but received a different result for its position in China 120 hours prior to its sighting in Montana.

Satterfield then used the model to predict that the balloon would fly over the Midwest and be somewhere over southeastern Missouri by 7 a.m. ET Saturday. Other predictions suggest it would then travel toward the Carolinas border.

However, Satterfield assumed that the balloon’s altitude over Montana was 14,000 meters and its forward trajectory 20,000 meters when predicting its starting point. US officials have given no indication of the balloon’s altitude, other than that it is a stratospheric object – a layer of the atmosphere that begins somewhere between 6,000 and 12,000 meters above Earth’s surface.

The graphic has raised questions as to why the balloon was not shot down by the US when it was over an area closer to China.

Adam Housley, a journalist and former baseball player, tweeted, “How the hell wasn’t that shot down over Alaska? Aaaaand spare me the idea that it would hit populated areas in Montana. We shot down a rogue satellite a few years ago. “

Meanwhile, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia lashed out at the Biden administration, calling it “powerless” for not shooting down the balloon. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican Senator from Tennessee, asked, “Why won’t Biden shoot down the Chinese spy balloon currently flying over the United States?”

A senior administration official told the Associated Press that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the matter and had asked for military options. But Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary, and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advised against “kinetic measures” over security concerns — a recommendation Biden accepted.

A senior defense official told CNBC that there was a window Wednesday for the US military to retrieve the balloon as it flew over Montana. NORAD scrambled aircraft, including F-22 Raptors, from Nellis Air Force Base on Feb 1.

NOAA spy balloon path
A map of the balloon’s predicted trajectory 120 hours before reaching Montana, assuming it was over the US state at midnight on February 1, 2023 at an altitude of 45,000 feet.

The US continues to track the balloon, Pentagon press secretary Patrick Ryder said in a statement, adding that the balloon “poses no military or physical threat to people on the ground.”

In a letter to Austin, Republican Senator for Montana Steve Daines said the balloon’s presence over Montana, which has a nuclear silo field at Malmstrom Air Force Base, “raises significant concern” that U.S. nuclear missile fields “are the target of these Secret service information is a collection mission.” In one tweet He said the government had failed “to protect our skies”.

“Currently, we feel that from an intelligence gathering perspective, this balloon has limited value beyond that [People’s Republic of China] can do by other means,” a senior defense official told CNBC.

news week has contacted the Department of Defense for further comment. Chinese spy balloon tracker raises questions about why it wasn’t shot down

Chinese spy balloon tracker raises questions about why it wasn’t shot down – World Time Todays

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