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The Chinese balloon incident made me wonder how many high altitude balloons have drifted outside their own country border. It seems weird that a lot of weather balloons suddenly drifted into other countries unannounced, when GPS is cheap and light. It seems that the search engines are still flooded with news of the incident and the only other incident I can find is the 1998 Canadian weather balloon which rode on that wave.

I am quite curious on how often do weather balloons get lost so badly it drifted outside their own country, or maybe even balloons that failed to pop for so long. It can be simply crossing the land border of a neighboring state.

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    $\begingroup$ Re "I am quite curious on how often do weather balloons get lost so badly it drifted outside their own country, " -- actually, if the country is small (like in Europe), they are not supposed to stay in the country from which they are launched. $\endgroup$ Mar 6, 2023 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer People in the EU can move quite mobile, but for closed border countries how do they retrieve the balloons, do they have some agreement with each other? $\endgroup$ Mar 6, 2023 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @R3G3N3R4T0R For traditional weather balloons, they're considered disposable. The US National Weather Service says they get less than 20% back, and if it ends up in Canada or Mexico, to throw it out. There's no expectation they'll recover radiosondes launched from coastal sites that drift over the sea or launched from places like Hawaii and Alaska. This is distinct from scientific high-altitude balloons, which are much larger. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Mar 7, 2023 at 3:37

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I know the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) in the Netherlands attaches information to their balloon radio sondes in German, French and English.

With balloons frequently travelling >200km, and the country's border being < 200km away from the main meteorological centre in any direction, the balloons crossing into a neighbouring country is a pretty normal event.

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