The $180,000 ‘blimp in a box’ device being used in the Pocono Mountains search for Eric Frein comprises a tethered Mylar balloon.
This balloon is fitted with two cameras – a normal one for the daytime and an infrared one for night – alongside heat sensors.
To use the device, officials must deploy the blimp from a trailer-mounted box in Paradise Township, while a tether connects it to a ground-control station.
Similarly to a weather balloon, the unmanned contraption can then hover silently in the air for up to three days at a time, while capturing video of vast areas of the Poconos Mountains.
The tether then transmits the images – taken from as high as a 50-story building – to a laptop computer in the ground-control station.
If at any point, officials notice a ‘heat signature’ coming from the sensors, they can use an optical zoom to determine whether the source of the heat is a person.
The ‘blimp in a box’ is designed to fly up to 1,000 feet in the air. However, federal aviation authorities must be notified if it flies higher than 500 feet.
It can be ‘tricky’ to operate in windy conditions.
Source: The Daily Mail – dailymail.co.uk