Take two students from MIT; now, take two students from MIT with only $150 in their pockets and a notion to use a little science to make a little art, and what do you get? … Eight gigabytes of near-space photographs and an experience to share to the rest of the world of citizen scientists!
Oliver Yeh, Justin Lee, and Eric Newton set out to take some amazing pictures, and they didn’t have much cash to get the job done. So, with a lot of ingenuity, a little scrounging around the dorm room, they were able to create a secure — and legal — launch vehicle that contained a used Canon A470 camera and sent it up 17 1/2 miles to take some excellent images capturing the curvature of the Earth. With a lot of luck, and little help from an GPS-enabled pre-paid cell phone for tracking, they found their vehicle (a Styrofoam container with a couple of hand warmers inside!) only 20 miles away from the launch site.
The group plans to post a detailed instruction guide on how they accomplished the launch, and will be providing the information free of charge. We will be sure to link to the instructions from DPR, and maybe we’ll be seeing in the near future more balloons flying high from citizen scientists around the world.