Strange object in the skies above New Zealand

New Zealand from space.
New Zealand from space. Photo credit: NASA.

Users of popular plane spotting websites and apps such as FlightRadar24 may have noticed something a little different in the skies above New Zealand lately.

But it's not a UFO - in fact, it's closer to being UFB.

The object, simply labelled N279LB, is part of Project Loon - a network of balloons that orbit the earth, providing internet to parts of the world that don't usually have it.

An 'auto-launch' function has the ability to launch a balloon every 30 minutes from various locations around the world. The longest test flight lasted for 190 days before the balloon came down.

Weather balloon on flight radar screen.
N279LB as it appears on flight radar screens. Photo credit:

The service itself is yet to launch, but the team work with companies such as Vodafone New Zealand, Telefonica Brazil and Telstra Australia.

When it's launched, people in remote areas will be able to access the internet via the network of balloons using a special sim-card.