Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm Going To Do This! Who Wants In?

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?


Hyperblogal said...

I'd try it but, with my luck, it would reach the upper reaches just in time to down the space shuttle and I'd have me a Feds Flash Mob to deal with. (My word verification is "noidster" which certainly should be a word.)

Kanga said...

I'm game AFTER graduation. Sounds like fun.


PS. What do you think of the new NASA plan?

Sandie said...

I'm totally in!