Sorry to contradict you guys, but I too have to side with the observation that it is an actual satellite and not a weather balloon. Otherwise, that would be the wierdest-looking balloon I've ever seen, LOL.
First off, it's more or less a solid construct, the main body of it anyway. No actual inflatable component, at least none that would be sufficient to keep it air-borne indefinately.
I'll admit there do appear to be small inflatable pockets on the one side of it, but as it was a "test" flight they didn't necessarily need it to remain in the air for very long.
Second, if you read the article in its entirety you'd have seen it mentioned it was a "machine that will be used to further study the sun". Call me crazy, but if this was indeed designed to do that, it would have to be at more than a 100,000-foot (which isn't really a lot) elevation in our atmosphere.
If anything, it would have to be space-bound, in closer proximity, in order to effectively study the sun.
I'd also like to point out that as it was still well within our atmosphere there would be little to no friction as it came down, hence no severe damage (burn marks, melted plates) and no impact crater (the mass isn't substantial enough to displace a large area of earth).
The wording in the article is simply erroneous, as it is described as both a "balloon" and a "satellite" throughout. As such, it's easy to get confused as to just what it is. Just my two-cents worth...
Guys please, just think about it. If that had been a space satellite it would have burned up on re-entry. I would rather not remember the Columbia incident, but maybe it will illustrate my point. That is what happens to things that fall (uncontrolled) from space.
This "satellite" was attached to a high atmosphere balloon, one of those silvery teardrop shaped balloons filled with helium. They don't even fill them up all the way, because the gas in the balloon expands and fills out the balloon as it goes into the thin air of the stratosphere. Balloon telescopes can get above most of the haze in the atmosphere, are cheap, and recoverable.
Here is a similiar balloon telescope being launched from antartica link
still a very rare cool event and thanks for sharing it with us.