WASHINGTON (AP) _ A NASA research balloon launched from Australia on a trip around the globe crashed early Sunday in Paraguay, according to NASA spokesman Jim Elliott.

The helium-filled balloon went down near Concepcion, Elliott said, a week after it was launched from Alice Springs, Australia. It had been expected to take 12 to 15 days to go around the earth.

Elliott said the reason for the 1 a.m. EST crash was unknown, but he said Harvey Needleman, chief of the balloon project at NASA's Wallops Island, Va., base, believed that a computer aboard the balloon probably failed to release ballast required to keep it aloft.

NASA officials are attempting to get to the balloon to determine what happened and the extent of damage to the balloon, Elliott said.

The 600-foot high balloon was designed to study solar flares in an experiment prepared by the University of Washington and Louisiana State University.

Another balloon will be launched Tuesday from Alice Springs unless NASA officials discover that there was some type of malfunction with computer programs, Elliott said.