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Leaked document claims Chinese spy balloon uses solar to power data collection

Image: Ed Weiner / Shutterstock

A leaked document shows that the Chinese spy balloon shot down in the US in February was using solar panels to power its surveillance.

Reported by the Washington Post, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard allegedly leaked the document and has since been charged for sharing classified information.

The spy balloon was shot down in South Carolina and the document states that it had 10KW of solar capacity on board; similar to what would be found on a regular rooftop array.

Solar power was reportedly being used collect data and generate imagery at night – a technology called synthetic aperture radar.

The power of the Sun also allows the radar to penetrate clouds to depict clear images.

Spanning 20 – 30 metres, the balloon also had a long antenna attached – but its role is not yet clear, reports state.

China labelled the shooting down of the balloon as “information warfare.”

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in a recent press conference: “I’m not going to comment on what was being collected. We still are doing our analysis right now. The Intelligence Community is involved in that.

“The administration identified the problem, we addressed the problem, we feel confident in the precautionary measures that we were able to put in place, that the balloon was not able to gather sensitive information that would have provided any additional information that a satellite wouldn’t have been able to collect.”

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