‘Lost’ Camera Records Stunning Footage From Edge Of Space

SCIENCE

A GoPro camera lost after being launched in a weather balloon two years ago has been recovered, and it has some incredible footage of the Grand Canyon as seen from the edge of space. (Huffington Post)

Launch your own out-of-this-world photos with kiteography!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Discussion Ideas

  • The footage from the edge of space was taken with a camera attached to a helium-filled weather balloon. How did the balloon rise so high in the atmosphere without any engine or mechanical liftoff device?

 

 

 

 

  • How did the Stanford students lose their fancy weather balloon camera?
    • The students were tracking the camera’s location using GPS, but their Earthbound smartphone (the GPS receiver) lost the signal. “The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it,” said one student.
    • Luckily, AT&T redeemed itself. “Two years later, in a twist of ironic fate, a woman who works at AT&T was on a hike one day and spotted our phone in the barren desert. She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend’s SIM card. We got the footage and data a few weeks later!”

 

  • Watch our introductory video on kiteography, in which a simple kite—not a helium weather balloon—is launched over the landscape. Why is kiteography a little safer and easier than balloon-ography?
    • Conducting an experiment with high-flying weather balloons is potentially more dangerous and requires a little more prep work.
      • Watch the beginning of the video to see the Stanford students conduct flight preparations including a parachute drop test, trajectory planning, engineering a structure to safely and efficiently hold the camera, and use a 3-D printer to make the chassis.
      • To avoid endangering the skies and your legal record, balloon-ography also requires clearing your project with the Feds. In the United States, there are two sets of regulations governing launching and tracking high-altitude weather balloons. One is from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the other is from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Says one of the students who did the Grand Canyon experiment: “(I)t could be potentially dangerous for pilots and other aircraft. We registered with the FAA and let them know our desired time, location of launch, and the balloon’s predicted trajectory ahead of time. They responded back with a location and time window in which we could launch our balloon.”
Grand Canyon (center left), grander vista.

Grand Canyon (center left), grander vista.

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Huffington Post: ‘Lost’ GoPro Records Stunning Grand Canyon Footage From Edge Of Space

Bryan Chan: Grand Canyon from the Stratosphere! A Space Balloon Story video

Nat Geo: #Kiteography

Popular Mechanics: How to Launch a Camera Into Space

Nat Geo: What is the atmosphere?

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