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DIY Space Photography

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the exploring-on-a-budget dept.

Space 106

Four Spanish teenagers sent a camera-operated weather balloon into the stratosphere. The boys built the electronic sensor components from scratch. Gerard Marull Paretas, Sergi Saballs Vila, Marta Gasull Morcillo and Jaume Puigmiquel Casamort attached a £56 camera to a heavy duty £43 latex balloon, and sent their science project 20-miles above the Earth. Team leader Gerard Marull, 18, said, "We were overwhelmed at our results, especially the photographs, to send our handmade craft to the edge of space is incredible."

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Next time I'm on an airplane (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27247139)

I'll be sure to be thinking of people putting random shit in the air.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

Enki X (1315689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247207)

Let me know the next time you fly in an X-15, I wanna come along...

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (2, Informative)

rillopy (650792) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247295)

The "edge of space" is around 62 miles, also where the X-15 set its altitude records. But this project only (ha) went to 20 miles. So you'd be very very safe from random debris in an X-15!

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248719)

The sky, it doesn't ever end The air just gets much thinner further up.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (-1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249639)

Look it up again, it's not 62 miles.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247261)

Um, you realize that there is a whole lot of airspace, and that relatively speaking, practically none of it is occupied by aircrafts?

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250381)

Um, you realize that there is a whole lot of airspace, and that relatively speaking, practically none of it is occupied by aircrafts?

And yet somehow, mid-air collisions and random bird strikes manage to happen. Go figure.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252077)

There are more birds than latex ballons in the sky I'd assume ...

Also the mid-air collisions probably happen more frequently close to airports.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27247325)

Next time you're on an airplane we'll be sure to ground all birds worldwide so you're not worried about 'random shit in the air'.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0, Redundant)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247447)

So you normally fly in an airplane 20 miles above the Earth?

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252239)

I'm a motherf'ing birdplane.

For those who don't get the joke, search around for songs that use the same four chords...

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247521)

If it even is possible for a 1500 gram balloon to do any serious damage to a airplane, what do you think the odds are of the two intersecting in that big piece of 3D space we call the sky. Do you play the lottery, serious question.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248179)

Indeed. Consider:

Volume of airplane = small.
Volume of atmosphere = big.

Chance of airplane being in part of sky = small/big, which is more or less zero.

Chance of two airplanes being in part of sky = zero squared = zero.

Conclusion: mid air collision [wikipedia.org] is impossible.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (2, Informative)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248703)

I think the air traffic lanes and similar cruising altitudes decrease your "big" approximation a bit. Question, how long was the balloon between 25,000 and 30,000 feet.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250535)

Sort of like outer space-craft collisions... I mean, outer space really is endless. Yet I seem to recall in recent history something about two man-made objects smashing into each other....

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27251801)

I don't know if those satellites were in LEO or Geo-sync orbits but at least I do know that is not the same thing as outer space. Regardless, the orbits these satellites were in account for a very tiny portion of "space." Many, many more 1500 gram objects pass through these orbits in the form of meteors. How often do they strike?

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

bhiestand (157373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27253481)

Better question, did these boys launch the balloon near any airports or frequently used air space? Did the balloon enter controlled, restricted, or uncontrolled airspace? Was it legal in their area? For all we know they had NOTAMs...

I'd guess a balloon this small wouldn't be an issue for many engines, but something like an air intake could be a serious problem. And don't laugh at the thought of that, I once saw a small bird get sucked into one.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248835)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gol_Flight_1907

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (2, Interesting)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248941)

Nice way to mess up statistics. More or less zero is not equal to zero. Your odds of winning the lotto are also nearly zero, yet people win it on a regular basis. Heck, some people even win it twice. That doesn't mean I give any consideration to the fact that I could win it.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249267)

Chance of aircraft being distributed randomly in the air: zero.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252917)

This made me grin, thank you!

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248229)

I dunno. How many 1500 gram balloons equals one Canadian Goose?

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252937)

Metric or Imperial?

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27253245)

A nitpick, just because Goose Vs Plane was recent news and so many people get it wrong:

Canada goose, not Canadian goose.

Canadian implies that the geese are citizens or residents of Canada. They only spend summers in Canada, and they don't have citizenship.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27252881)

> If it even is possible for a 1500 gram balloon to do any serious damage to a airplane

In the 1970s a hungarian air force MiG-19 twinjet supersonic fighter plane collided with a smallish weather ballon launched by the neighbouring soviet red army airfield (lack of coordination was a constant problem in the WARPAC block). The shockwave explosion tore off both wings from the plane, it took some half minute for the pilots to recognize why the control stick is no longer effective... He ejected very near the minimum altitude and survived, but the debris was scattered over a rather large territory.

In the early 1950s a hungarian fighter pilot died when his MiG-15 jet collided with a CIA launched propaganda leaflet distributing balloon. These things were sent from american controlled german territory and Yugoslavia, after marshall Tito feel out of the graces of Joe Stalin. The WARPAC command sent up fighters to shoot down the balloons, which was very dangerous. Eventually the CIA abandoned the project, after communist authorities managed to convince people the leaflets are infected with some bacteria as an imperialist trick to destroy the workers' states. Antoher factor was the development of soviet Myasichev M-17/55 jetplanes, which had very large wings and a rotating gunturret to conveniently destroy high-flying ballons.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247585)

You have more problems with birds flying at 100 feet off the ground than you do with a balloon flying at 100,000 feet.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27247835)

You can think of the hundreds of weather balloons launched every day all over the world just to make forecasts better.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (5, Interesting)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247907)

In the US one can notify the FAA of such events and they will release a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that will let them know the craft is in the area, with a description and advice. They require 24 hours notice. Every pilot in the US checks for NOTAMs along their designated flight plan and adjust accordingly. This is standard procedure before any takeoff and taught at the most basic level by flight schools before you ever leave the ground.

If you do launch _any_ craft into the air in the US it will fall under some sort of regulation that you should follow. In this case it's most likely part 101 [gpoaccess.gov] Around the world governments have similar regulations in place.

My point? This has been done before and done right, safe procedures are in place.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

not-my-real-name (193518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249625)

Every pilot in the US checks for NOTAMs along their designated flight plan and adjust accordingly. This is standard procedure before any takeoff and taught

Make that, "is suppose to check for NOTAMs". It's a good idea, but doesn't always happen, especially if you're flying VFR locally. Also, if you've been camping for a few days in the mountains (yes, some people do go camping in the back woods in airplanes), you might not even be able to talk to ATC before you're in the air.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250003)

Make that, "is suppose to check for NOTAMs". It's a good idea, but doesn't always happen, especially if you're flying VFR locally.

And since VFR = Visual Flight Rules, you don't try to visually look for other traffic or weather balloons.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (2, Funny)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27253299)

Dear FAA,
In 24 hours I intend to release balloons into the air randomly around Chicago O'Hare. Please alert all pilots so that they can go and land elsewhere.

Regards,

Real life troll.

Seriously though, I assume as you say the regulations in place govern also where you can and can't release things into the air? Presumably you can't just launch something wherever you feel like even if you do give notice and presumably the FAA can reject requests?

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 5 years ago | (#27254489)

That's why I posted the link to the regulation :P.

It's fairly short and covers this:


(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate a moored balloon or kiteâ"

(1) Less than 500 feet from the base of any cloud;

(2) More than 500 feet above the surface of the earth;

(3) From an area where the ground visibility is less than three miles; or

(4) Within five miles of the boundary of any airport.

(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to the operation of a balloon or kite below the top of any structure and within 250 feet of it, if that shielded operation does not obscure any lighting on the structure.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 5 years ago | (#27254085)

"If you do launch _any_ craft into the air in the US it will fall under some sort of regulation that you should follow."

Kites?

drew

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (1)

MarbleMunkey (1495379) | more than 5 years ago | (#27256635)

Kites?

drew

Yes, actually.

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27254297)

They did notify the local authorities (AENA in their case).

Re:Next time I'm on an airplane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27253519)

They got permission from AENA, the Spanish air transport authority (I read their blog). So, no worries.

Possible Malware on TFA? (1)

Emb3rz (1210286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247217)

Chrome alerted me to possibly dangerous content from creative-banners.com (or something like that) while I was browsing the article. Be forewarned!

Re:Possible Malware on TFA? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248043)

No worries, most people don't RTFA

Re:Possible Malware on TFA? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27251719)

That's okay, my system won't run the malware, not even under Crossover Office. I always submit reports to malware authors but they never respond to help me install their software. I feel so ostricised by the malware community! I'm a Linux geek and I have feelings, damn it! :(

Google or no Google? (5, Funny)

DavidJSimpson (899508) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247225)

From the article:

"Proving that you don't need Google's billions ... [they] followed the progress of their balloon using high tech sensors communicating with Google Earth."

Maybe they did need Google's billions.

What kind of clearance (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247267)

I wonder what kind of clearance this sort of balloon experiment requires. You wouldn't want to do this anywhere near air traffic routes for fear of hitting an airliner. I know the equipment is light but I imagine it'd still do some damage if it got sucked into an engine or hit a plane travelling at mach 0.85.

Re:What kind of clearance (5, Interesting)

MrFlibbs (945469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247509)

A guy in our local Astronomy club researched this and gave a presentation on the requirements a year ago. As I recall, the FAA requirements were that the balloon launch site not be within X miles of an airport, that it must reflect RADAR (accomplished by dangling cardboard covered with aluminum foil), and that the cord used to tie the instrument package to the balloon must break easily. (Can't remember the spec, but it's something like 10 pound test line.) Part of the trick is calibrating the lift rate before launch so the balloon rises at an appropriate rate. Too slow, and the balloon will break too low in the atmosphere. Too fast, and it won't break close enough to the launch site to recover the payload. What's cool is you can have the package use a GPS to transmit data on altitude and position, and a thermometer to give readings at altitude. The temperature gets down to -50C, so the instruments must be in a styrofoam box to survive.

Re:What kind of clearance (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249055)

Actually nearly all GPS units will not give readings above 60,000 feet. This is to prevent foreign countries from using our own system to lob missiles at us. KySat http://www.kysat.com/home.aspx did a similar balloon mission last summer. Some chips work, others dont. In our case it was a 50% failure rate.

Re:What kind of clearance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249241)

so which chips do work ?

Re:What kind of clearance (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252653)

Actually nearly all GPS units will not give readings above 60,000 feet.

Actually, IIRC the legislation is 60,000 feet and 500 m/s, but some lazy manufacturers take that to mean 60,000 feet or 500 m/s.

We had an application [ucam.org] where we were going to be flying rockets at well over both those cutoffs, so we just got a whizzkid to write our own GPS decoder!

Re:What kind of clearance (1)

0x000000 (841725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250861)

You can't launch in specific air space, and yes it has to be X miles away from an airport. It does not need to reflect radar in any way shape or form, so cardboard with aluminium foil is not required. Also, the load line has no specific specs on it what so ever, the only thing is that the package can not be more than 12 pounds total, and those 12 pounds have to be distributed between two seperate containers that can be tied together using load lines, but each one has a max limit of 6 pounds.

Also, the ascent rate does not matter in terms of when it is going to break, the balloon is going to break when the pressure of the gas inside causes the balloon to burst because the atmosphere is not putting enough pressure on the latex balloon to keep the latex from stretching any further. It is like a condom, you fill it with water, and the higher the pressure inside the condom will eventually burst. That being said, depending on wind conditions at the different layers you will want it to ascent faster or slower so that it follows a path you can predict. Also, if you don't put enough gas in the latex balloon the package can become a counter balance and the balloon will stay stuck at a layer in the stratosphere and never rise far enough for it to pop. Much like the weather balloons the national weather service uses.

Generally the faster it rises, the more likely it is going to be recovered closely to the launch site, since there is less chance for the wind to grab it and drag it along.

As for the styrofoam box, you are absolutely correct, it does have to be in one to survive because of the extreme temperatures. Also, you generally have the GPS record the location, not transmit the actual data which is generally done using a standard off the shelf HAM radio with a TNC and an antenna hanging out of the box. On our last flight (CONNERY-2) we actually lost GPS for a while because the GPS receiver actually froze up because of the outside temperature thereby we "lost" our near space craft.

Check out our website http://nearspace.0x58.com/ [0x58.com] if you would like more information about the flights we have flown (CONNERY-1 and CONNERY-2), pictures are available at http://nearspace.0x58.com/launches/ [0x58.com] .

Re:What kind of clearance (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27254409)

The temperature gets down to -50C, so the instruments must be in a styrofoam box to survive.

"How'd you solve the icing problem?"

"Icing problem...?"

"Better look into that." <clonk>

Re:What kind of clearance (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248095)

I wonder what kind of clearance this sort of balloon experiment requires.

FTA:

"However, when we launched at 9.10am on that morning the critical point for the experiment was to see if the balloon would make it past 10,000m, or 30,000ft, which is the altitude that commercial airliners fly at."

That statement suggests to me that they didn't have any clearance.

Re:What kind of clearance (1)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27249671)

I thought the whole point was that the article exists to imbue a sense of awe-of-the-unknown into the discussion.

Pasting from the article is like telling your kids that santa claus doesn't exist.

Re:What kind of clearance (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248171)

You don't need any clearence, provided the balloon and the payload is small enough. You can look up the limits yourself. If you're feeling nice, you can optionally file a NOTAM about balloon activity, but it is not required.

Note that the hard part is payload recovery.

I thought everyone did this. (2, Interesting)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247289)

We just put on our return address back in the neolithic days, when I was a kid. Mine went from Livermore to Hollister.

SABLE-3 did it on August 11/07 - 117,597ft/ 35850m (5, Informative)

dan of the north (176417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247297)

"SABLE-3 was launched on Saturday, August 11th, 2007, at 9:31 AM with a payload, consisting of a Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera set to take 1 image every minute and a Byonics MicroTrak 300 APRS Tracker, that the Kaysam 1200 gram balloon carried to over 117,597 feet. The last payload camera photo from the ground was just before it was launched, at 9:31 AM, and the last photo before the balloon burst was the photo above, at 12:01 PM, exactly 2.5 hours or 150 images later." link [sbszoo.com] - more info here [blogspot.com]

Re:SABLE-3 did it on August 11/07 - 117,597ft/ 358 (2)

GogglesPisano (199483) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247595)

Granted, this kind of thing has been done before [slashdot.org] , but that doesn't diminish the fact that this is simply a really cool project, particularly for a group of high school kids.

They have a flickr [flickr.com] page with more photos of the balloon and the results (note that much of the captions are in Spanish). I'm impressed; in fact, I'd love to try this myself.

Re:SABLE-3 did it on August 11/07 - 117,597ft/ 358 (1)

Baldorcete (1184665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248453)

An small nitpick... The captions are not in Spanish. Are in Catalonian. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_language [wikipedia.org]

Re:SABLE-3 did it on August 11/07 - 117,597ft/ 358 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248819)

An small nitpick... The captions are not in Catalonian. Are in Catalan.

Re:SABLE-3 did it on August 11/07 - 117,597ft/ 358 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27253605)

Just a minor correction: the captions are in Catalan language, not in Spanish.

Re:SABLE-3 did it on August 11/07 - 117,597ft/ 358 (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252441)

Awesome photos and sites. Why don't we shoot up space tourists this way? Sure, landing may be somewhat less safe but it would be much cheaper I assume! ;D

2 reasons (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27256989)

First you need a really huge balloon to lift a human being to that sort of altitude. Secondly getting down again isn't just 'somewhat less safe', it is downright insanely dangerous.

Also, since the flight time is relatively long, you need good life support. A few minutes zooming up to 62 miles really just requires a sealed cabin. Spending 5-6 hours ascending, most of which is above 30,000 feet where you can actually breath, requires temperature control and some amount of regulation of the atmosphere inside the capsule. Overall it may actually be easier to use a space plane, once you know how to build it.

BTDT? (1, Redundant)

biocute (936687) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247301)

Southern Alberta Balloon Launch Experiment [sbszoo.com] did that in August 2007.

Re:BTDT? (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247789)

BTDT?

Twiki? Is that you?

It takes saballs... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27247381)

...to pull off a stunt like that.

Re:It takes saballs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250295)

I thought you said "spaceballs" . . . Colonel Sanders time to go to ludicrous speed!

It's been done (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27247387)

Here's images from a similar flight conducted by Oklahoma State university students in July last year:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/arena5/sets/72157606119049987/ [flickr.com]

Teddy bears in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27249465)

teddy bears strapped to helium weather balloon
reach the edge of space

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1091896/Out-world-British-teddy-bears-strapped-helium-weather-balloon-reach-edge-space.html

Re:It's been done (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252581)

...and we've been doing it since 2006 [ucam.org] ...

*yawn*

Our technology has advanced a long way since then, too!

wth is that? (1, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247405)

What is a "camera-operated weather balloon"?

The camera did not operate anything.

And is it a weather balloon if it isn't doing weather observations?

Congratulations (2, Funny)

symes (835608) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247553)

I think this is fantastic and that the guys who achieved this deserve all the (positive) attention they are getting. I wish more people thier age could get into sending stuff into space... actuially forget that last bit, we'll just end up with empty cans of lager and unsuspecting victims hanging in the sky over the UK.

Re:Congratulations (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247921)

actuially forget that last bit, we'll just end up with empty cans of lager and unsuspecting victims hanging in the sky over the UK.

Wouldn't that be an improvement?

Um... (2, Insightful)

Noxieas (917136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247729)

"Proving that you don't need Google's billions or the BBC weather centre's resources, the four Spanish students managed to send a camera-operated weather balloon into the stratosphere." .... "the budding scientists, all aged 18-19, followed the progress of their balloon using high tech sensors communicating with Google Earth." wait... what?

Tracking the landing (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27247797)

But how do you find where it lands without some kind of GPS attached to it? (Which also costs money)

Re:Tracking the landing (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248267)

What if it lands between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., while you're asleep?

Re:Tracking the landing (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248847)

Your damned right it's expensive. Most tracking packages which _aren't_ this advanced run close to $1000 for rockets; I suspect it's possible that you could send up a cellphone with the google tracking software to get the tracking data. Don't know what the cheapest phone is that can do that. Even so, a 3lb brick with a 2m long latex streamer coming in at terminal velocity has a chance of really ruining someones day.

Re:Tracking the landing (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252613)

Your damned right it's expensive. Most tracking packages which _aren't_ this advanced run close to $1000 for rockets; I suspect it's possible that you could send up a cellphone with the google tracking software to get the tracking data. Don't know what the cheapest phone is that can do that. Even so, a 3lb brick with a 2m long latex streamer coming in at terminal velocity has a chance of really ruining someones day.

The tracking package on our balloons [ucam.org] has a replacement cost of about £100 and time -- and we get realtime position data! It's all the other stuff which is expensive... the cameras, the recovery system, the balloon-launched sounding rocket... ;)

Univesity of Colorado. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248037)

has been doing this since 2002. I took a class then where we had 6 to 8 groups (don't remember anymore) each build what are called Balloon-Satellites. They were even building full on satellites back then. If you are interested you can poke around on this site for more information.

http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/ [colorado.edu]

Whoa (1)

Keanu Reeves (1418607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248263)

When I was a teenager, I just smoked pot.

Quite a balloon... (3, Funny)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248307)

...to lift a 56 pound camera.

Re:Quite a balloon... (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27248447)

56#! Damn, they had'em smaller than that when I was a a kid.

Teddy bears in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248395)

Teddy bears have already done this, and they lived to tell about it:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/3548363/Teddy-bears-in-space-first-pictures.html

government is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248419)

because the government is so stupid these boys will probably be arrested for attempting to launch an icbm instead of receiving recognition for being intelligent and succeeding in a really cool venture. i really hope they dont get in trouble but government is extremely stupid

Nuts and Volts magazine (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27248721)

Nuts and Volts magazine is writing about this for several years now. CO, USA.

Latest article: http://www.nutsvolts.com/index.php?/magazine/issue/2009/03 [nutsvolts.com]

Author: http://www.nutsvolts.com/index.php?/magazine/contributor/l_paul_verhage [nutsvolts.com]

Nothing new here. Move on.

High Altitude Glider (1)

serbanp (139486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250071)

Similar idea but much cooler way of retrieving the equipment: http://www.members.shaw.ca/sonde/ [members.shaw.ca]

There are quite a few groups and individuals... (1, Informative)

NorthwestWolf (941862) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250287)

in the U.S. sending payloads into "near space" on a fairly regular basis. It's much more common than most people would suspect. I've seen a rough estimate of ~1500 people in the U.S. who are involved with near space experimentation. It's very cool stuff and one of the few minimally regulated amateur sciences still available to those so inclined in the U.S.

An excellent primer is the Near Space Book: http://www.parallax.com/tabid/567/Default.aspx [parallax.com]

Here are several links to active near space groups:

Treasure Valley Near Space Program: http://www.tvnsp.org/ [tvnsp.org]

Arizona Near Space Research: http://www.ansr.org/node/7 [ansr.org]

JP Aerospace: http://www.jpaerospace.com/ [jpaerospace.com]

Most of these groups often need help with tracking and launching and at very least will share what they have learned with those interested.

Yes, they're using Linux (1)

Octorian (14086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250339)

If you look closely at this [flickr.com] photo of their tracking computer, its a MacBook Pro running Ubuntu :-)

Electronics in Space? (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27250415)

What's cool here is that all this home-made hobbyist-grade electronics worked all the way to Space! I would have thought that the camera had at least a part of the space around the lenses hermetically sealed (which would lead to it exploding in low pressure) but apparently not. In addition to the low pressure (bordering vacuum) there's the coldness and the ice crystals. How did the batteries survive the temperatures? Not that it was a long flight (few hours) but still... everything is more resilient than I thought it would be.

Take that, Flat Earthers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250515)

I come across honest-to-fuck Flat Earthers (invariably ultracon Christians) occasionally and now when they reject my evidence, I can tell them they can see for themselves for less than $150.

Nikon Marketing department (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27250681)

I'm sure Nikon will be happy with the publicity as well. "Nikon. operates at the edges of the earth" etc

Site with their side of the story (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27251061)

They have a site with info on the project http://teslabs.com/meteotek08/ where they explain how they did it and they difficulties they faced, it's in Catalan so you might want to use Google to translate it.
Apparently they had to postpone the launch several times due to the weather conditions. They finally launched one day before their permission from AENA -the Spanish civil aviation authority- expired.

so it crashed back to earth to get data? (1)

societyofrobots (1396043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27252069)

"At over 100,000ft the balloon lost its inflation and the equipment was returned to the earth . . . We travelled 10km to find the sensors and photographic card, which was still emitting its signal, even though it had been exposed to the most extreme conditions."

I'm guessing it crashed back to earth without a parachute, and the memory cards weren't damaged . . . If it had a parachute, it would drift way more than 10km! I'd really like to see more info on the hardware . . . looks like it was mostly luck that it worked . . .

how sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27252715)

I hate to say this but the quality of slashdot posts has dropped dramatically. This post is just so much fluff. First of all, what do you mean by "camera-operated"? How was the balloon operated by the camera exactly? Also it may be interesting if the whole project cost around 100 pounds, but how did they find the balloon when it returned to earth? Don't you think they MAY have attached a GPS and radio transmitter to it? How much did that cost then? We've learned to expect science reporters to have no respect for the details of anything scientific. But slashdot is for geeks BY GEEKS, so I sort of expected more.

Wrong name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27253171)

One of the names is wrong:

Marta Gasull Morcillo -> Martí Gasull Morcillo

Marta is the Catalan for "Martha".

Martí is the Catalan for "Martin".

So, it's not a female, but a male.

You can see them here: http://teslabs.com/meteotek08/membres/

Explorer troop balloons (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27253393)

As I noted when the article was posted on NASAwatch [nasawatch.com] , the students in Explorer post 632 at NASA Glenn also do launches of a balloon payload [nasa.gov] , to the same altitude, and including cameras, so they're also doing "DIY Space Photography" if you count 20 miles altitude as "space". And they've been doing this since 2004.

(I'll also note that they don't use NASA equipment to do this; they buy or build their own hardware).

Wrong currency? (1)

UbuntuniX (1126607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27253427)

I believe they use the Euro in Spain.

We did this almost 20 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27253573)

While this is cool and all it is nothing new. Myself and a team of people from the Dayton Amateur Radio Association did this almost twenty years ago. Our balloon made approximately 100,000 feet. The balloon carried a telemetry board, 20M beacon, 2M beacon (that is the part I built) and an ATV transmitter. The telemetry was over laid on the TV signal which was picked up from several hundred miles away. The 20M beacon was heard worldwide and the 2M was heard over 1000 miles away. All transmitters were in the 1 watt range. We did notify the FAA of the launch.

Great accomplishment, BUT... (1)

Rabbi Shmabbi (1311483) | more than 5 years ago | (#27253851)

OUTSTANDING!!!!

GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT GUYS!!!

Unfortunately, these boys committed the cardinal sin. They're BOYS, and they didn't have any females involved.

Go to the flickr site and read the comments. I spotted this one:

---------------
Deutschbag says:
"This is great but next time have some girls on your project."
---------------

So a group of boys get together and do what males have always done - discover, invent, experiment, make mistakes, persevere and build the infrastructure of society. Then the Fem-Cops come in and bitch because they weren't invited.

Hey Deutschbag, go get a bunch of females together and launch your own balloon!!

Camera-operated or camera-equiipped? (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#27254473)

So was it a software hack that allowed the camera to operate the baloon, or was it a camera-equipped weather balloon? If it was camera operated, would it operate other things such as drone planes and kites?
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