In early February, a giant white balloon was seen floating over U.S. skies, prompting speculation about its provenance and purpose. An exclusive analysis of millions of square miles of satellite imagery traces the balloon hours after its launch in China, across the Philippine Sea and then to North America. It also reveals that the balloon was remotely maneuvered at points on its journey.
The New York Times worked with the artificial intelligence company Synthetaic to detect and analyze the Chinese balloon in satellite images captured by Planet Labs. This process was the first to track the balloon itself, not just its expected path based on weather projections.