Help locate weather balloons for DARPA Network Challenge

Help Penn State win $40K for students on December 5!
  • What UG Homepage GR
  • When Dec 05, 2009 from 03:00 PM to 09:00 PM (UTC / UTC0)
  • Add event to calendar iCal

The Department of Meteorology is supporting the effort below and requests your help!

The College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State  is participating in a team effort formed by the “information schools” (i-School) from several universities (including Penn State, Illinois, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and North Carolina) for the DARPA Network Challenge, which involves finding the coordinates (within 1 mile precision) of 10 red weather balloons (numbered from 1 to 10) in various locations across the continental US on December 5th (this Saturday).

For more information:

The balloons will be visible from 10 am to 4 pm local time. The first one who enters all the correct locations wins $40K.  If their team wins, they will donate the award money to student travels for attending conferences and presenting papers.

They are recruiting observers who are interested in helping them with this endeavor.  Mr. Chris Fivek, Senior Director of Operations of the College of IST, and Dean Foley have requested the help of Meteorology alumni, faculty, staff, and students, especially for those in weather stations that have good visibility of a large area. 

Those interested in helping should sign up as an observer by visiting

The i-schools are also having an internal competition to see which university has the most participants.  So, our participation can help Penn State to win this award.  Names of those who submit the correct locations will also be entered into a drawing to win one of ten GPS systems.

Below is a summary of how everyone can help.


On DECEMBER 5, start looking for balloons. Once you have located one of the balloons (numbered as 1, 2, 3, …, or 10), contact us:

    * If you have an iPhone, take a photo of the balloon (preferably with some surrounding landscape) using Camera 
       application,send the photo to

    * Otherwise, call, Text message, or e-mail the street address or street intersection. If you have access to Google maps or a 
       GPS, type in the address to find the latitude and longitude, which needs to be entered in degree-minute-second
       (DDD-MM-SS) format;

    * Please include your name, an email address, the name of the iSchool you are associated with (Penn State), and a phone
      number where we can reach you;

Contact us

    * Call us: 814-442-5501 (or 814-4BA-LL01)

    * Text us: 814-442-5501 (or 814-4BA-LL01)

    * Email us: