See this picture?
It was taken from the edge of space by some MIT students who lofted a digital camera housed in a styrofoam beer cooler stuffed with newspaper and wrapped in duct tape dangling from a weather balloon filled with helium.
It reached an altitude of about 93,000 feet! That's 17.3 miles high!
Total cost of this near-space mission? Less than $150.00.
Here's how they did it.
"The GPS receiver was a Motorola i290 “Boost Mobile” prepaid phone with internet and GPS capability (set up with Accutracking to constantly report its GPS location).
We bought a AA-battery cell phone charger to sustain the phone’s power over the duration of the flight, and we used Energizer lithium batteries (rated to operate at temperatures are low as -40F) to power both this charger as well as our camera.
As a further safeguard against electronic/battery failure due to low temperature, we utilitzed Coleman disposable hand warmers (placed near our electronics) to help keep our equipment warm in the cold of the stratosphere.
We loaded a Canon A470 camera (bought used on Amazon) with CHDK open source software to enable a feature which allowed the camera to take pictures continuously (intervalometer). Using this feature, we set the camera to take a picture every 5 seconds at a 1/800 second shutter speed. With an 8GB card, the camera was able to chronicle the whole journey of the balloon from launch to retrieval. (~5 hours)"
For a few more bucks more and some smart phone apps I think we could put together an even more ambitious mission profile and show those smarmy little MIT pricks a thing or two.
I'm ready to assemble a team to do this.
Are you in?