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Balloon and Duct Tape Deliver Great Space Photos

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-can-see-my-house-from-here dept.

Hardware Hacking 238

krou writes "With a budget of £500, Robert Harrison used cheap parts, a weather balloon, some duct tape, a digital camera, and a GPS device to capture some great photos of the earth from space that resulted in NASA calling him to find out how he had done it. 'A guy phoned up who worked for NASA who was interested in how we took the pictures,' said Mr Harrison. 'He wanted to know how the hell we did it. He thought we used a rocket. They said it would have cost them millions of dollars.' The details of his balloon are as follows: he used 'an ordinary Canon camera mounted on a weather balloon,' 'free software' that 'reprogrammed the camera to wake up every five minutes and take eight photographs and a video before switching off for a rest.' He also ensured the camera was 'wrapped in loft insulation' to make sure it could operate at the cold temperatures. The GPS device allowed him to pinpoint the balloon's location, and retrieve the camera when it fell down to earth attached to a small parachute."

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Cool (3, Insightful)

dancingmilk (1005461) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615362)

This is awesome, kudos to the guy who pulled it off.

Its also pretty sad that the engineers at NASA never thought of it...

Re:Cool (3, Funny)

sckirklan (1412015) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615512)

no kidding, how do you not hang up on someone thinking your being pranked from NASA anyhow.

Re:Cool (5, Interesting)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615746)

he's european.... they're more polite than we asshole americans :)

Re:Cool (2, Funny)

arjan_t (1655161) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616080)

Polite Europeans huh? Guess you never had to jump away for a bicycle approaching you at high speed while you were at the middle of a pedestrian crossing in Amsterdam! :P

Re:Cool (4, Funny)

Sinning (1433953) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616146)

In NYC the driver wouldn't have given you the time to jump out of the way.

Re:Cool (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31616290)

In Chicago your warning would have been the burst of gunfire.

Re:Cool (5, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615542)

This is awesome, kudos to the guy who pulled it off.

Its also pretty sad that the engineers at NASA never thought of it...

Actually the "NASA" types were doing that sort of thing many decades ago, pre maned space flight. If you gave this guy hundreds of millions for a budget he would have probably built a fancy rocket too.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615768)

No he wouldnt - he would have spent 300 million dollars financing a South American coup de tat errr buying a toilet seat.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31616122)

No he wouldnt - he would have spent 300 million dollars financing a South American coup de tat errr buying a toilet seat.

South American? not North American? Oh, wait that would cost 300 billion.

Re:Cool (2, Informative)

cromar (1103585) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616308)

Not to be a bitch, but it's "coup d'état" (in the original French) or often "coup d'etat" in English.

Re:Cool (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616050)

I've read a handful of comments around the web by people who say things like "How come nasa has to spend all of that money, why didnt they think of this"

Its amazing how people dont realize that Nasa has been doing this for decades... You know back before GPS existed... which would have never have existed if it werent for Nasa and the DOD. :P People are bizarre.

Re:Cool (4, Interesting)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615630)

I read an article about some kids doing that a while ago, but they did it better. They bought a prepaid cellphone with a GPS receiver built in that they reprogrammed to send them the coordinates of the balloon ever few minutes. The basket was a Styrofoam food container with chemical hand warmers that they used to keep the equipment warm. When the balloon landed, they just followed the coordinates the phone sent them.

Re:Cool (1)

Jeffrey_Walsh VA (1335967) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616082)

I question the cell phone story. Cell tower antennas are directional and don't work from high altitudes. Try turning your phone on while in flight: it only works when you are fairly close to the ground.

Re:Cool (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616180)

They'll work at high altitudes IF the phone has good LOS to towers near the horizon. Cell phones in aircraft are finicky due to the fact that most aircraft bodies make a good Faraday cage.

HOWEVER, there are a lot of HAB projects that say, "we're 100% legal because of this FAA reg that says we are", but use a cell phone. In the USA, those HAB projects are NOT legal, because even if the cell phone works, because of the fact that the system was designed and optimized around ground-based terminals, airborne use of cell phones is NOT permitted by FCC regulations.

See 47 C.F.R. 22.925

Re:Cool (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615660)

Its also pretty sad that the engineers at NASA never thought of it...

They not only thought of it, they did it, although without the duct tape. However, they did use duct tape to keep the Apollo 13 astronauts alive on their way back from the moon (see "Moon Lost" in your favorite library).

A lot of early NASA weather baloons were seen as UFOs. NASA called the guy because they thought he launched a rocket.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615800)

I wish I had mod points for you, because it's silly how many slashdotters assume that because they asked him about it, they must not have thought or done it before. Come on, guys.

Re:Cool (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615894)

Yeah, they thought of it. And they did it. But not for 500 quid.

Re:Cool (-1, Offtopic)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615914)

What does NASA care that this guy launched a rocket? He lives in the UK, as far as I know I live in the US and if I wanted to launch a rocket I don't have to answer to NASA. Maybe some branch of the government but surely not NASA.

Re:Cool (2, Funny)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616124)

What does NASA care that this guy launched a rocket?
From the tone of the article, it sounds like they were impressed and/or curious. Any other articles you want me to read for you?

Re:Cool (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616076)

NASA called the guy because they thought he launched a rocket.

Wrong. He's in europe. NASA has no "jurisdiction" there and would not have called him to check on whether or not he'd used a rocket. Calling about a rocket would have been the job of the EASA or the ESA.

Re:Cool (2, Insightful)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616172)

Curiosity isn't limited by "jurisdiction".

He wanted to know how the hell we did it. He thought we used a rocket. They said it would have cost them millions of dollars

How do you read that and not interpret it as NASA simply inquiring about their methods?

Re:Cool (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616220)

That's exactly my point. I was correcting the sentiment of mcgrew

Re:Cool (1)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616232)

"From the tone of the article, it sounds like they were impressed and/or curious. Any other articles you want me to read for you?" - BattleApple

Re:Cool (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616262)

Even in the USA, NASA doesn't have "jurisdiction". NASA designs, builds, and launches rockets.

The FAA is the organization that tells people whether or not it is OK to launch airborne device X in the United States.

The FCC is the organization that tells them whether or not the mechanisms they are using for communications are permitted in the United States.

There are international organizations that coordinate efforts between the FAA and their counterparts, and the FCC and their counterparts.

FAA -> ICAO
FCC -> ITU

A lot of HAB projects look at FAA regs and say "yay we're legal" even when they're breaking a pile of FCC regs with their comms equipment.

Re:Cool (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616318)

I think you mean "Lost Moon". Or you could just watch the Film [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Cool (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615890)

"This is awesome, kudos to the guy who pulled it off."

It would be awesome if everyone [slashdot.org] hadn't done this many times [slashdot.org] already [slashdot.org] .

If someone from NASA really called this guy then it's obvious no one at NASA reads /.

Please stop posting these stories, they were cool the first 3 times, now it's belongs to the Redundancy Office of Redundant Redundancy [facebook.com]

Re:Cool (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616132)

If someone from NASA really called this guy

It might be interesting to find out just who at NASA called this guy. If it was the guy in charge of outer space imaging, then it means one thing. If it was someone from NASA's public relations department it means something completely different.

People have been using balloons to do high-altitude photography for generations.

This whole thing sounds like one of those human interest stories that come at the very end of a newscast. "Finally, a young man in the UK, with only a few hundred dollars, taught top NASA scientists a lesson today..."

Re:Cool (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616320)

Or if it's just a curious engineer, that's something completely different. Hell, I worked at NASA for 8 yrs and have many friends that still do. If any of them called and asked how he did it, that's clearly not NASA calling.

All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that??? (-1, Flamebait)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615372)

Shows how much thinking "out of the box" goes on in top engineering circles today...

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615444)

Yeah, of course NASA is too stupid to think of using balloons [nasa.gov] .

Actually gov't/NASA types were doing that ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615504)

Shows how much thinking "out of the box" goes on in top engineering circles today...

Actually the government agencies that were the predecessors to NASA were doing that sort of thing in the 1940s/50s, maybe earlier.

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (-1, Troll)

omz13 (882548) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615616)

Shows how much thinking "out of the box" goes on in top engineering circles today...

Why are you surprised? NASA spent millions to develop a pen that could write in space... the Russians used a pencil. Sometimes people look for a really complicated solution instead of going for something cheap and cheerful that gets-the-job-done.

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (5, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615672)

Actually, thats a myth.

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp [snopes.com]

The "space pen" was developed independently from NASA and NASA did in fact use pencils on several early missions.

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (1, Redundant)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615680)

Why are you surprised? NASA spent millions to develop a pen that could write in space... the Russians used a pencil. Sometimes people look for a really complicated solution instead of going for something cheap and cheerful that gets-the-job-done.

LOL!

I mean, no. No they didn't. This is an urban legend perpetuated by petty anti-government types. Educate thy self: http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp [snopes.com]

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616166)

This is an urban legend perpetuated by petty anti-government types.

"Petty anti-government types" covers a lot of the people on TV these days, and 41 members of the US Senate.

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (0, Redundant)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615692)

NASA spent millions to develop a pen that could write in space... the Russians used a pencil.

Someday, people will stop repeating this falsehood [snopes.com] .
I fear that day is not coming anytime soon, though.

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615706)

Please tell me you are joking. This old chestnut AGAIN?

the Ruskies didn't use a pencil. A normal biro will work prefectly fine. A pencil would be great, snap the nip of and you have a teeny tiny bit of pencil floating around your space ship where it can lodge pretty much anywhere

NASA Bought 400 pens for $2.95ea (1)

The Yuckinator (898499) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615868)

BZZT! And that's the incredibly wrong answer that we were looking for!

Thanks for playing the "regurgitate-urban-legend-bullshit" game - you've won the ridicule of your online peers.

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp [snopes.com]

Anonymous Coward? Tell him what else he's won!

Re:All the NASA scientists couldn't think of that? (1)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615938)

Only thing is that's a myth.
Previously, Russia used grease pencils, and NASA used mechanical pencils that were more expensive than the pens that Fisher pen co. developed with their own money. Russia also ended up using the Fisher pens
http://history.nasa.gov/spacepen.html [nasa.gov]

Some NASA scientists did think of that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615886)

Actually, NASA funded a weather-balloon launched space telescope. There's a great documentary called "Blast!" about it (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1190065/).

Why the fancy software ? (4, Funny)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615382)

when you can just push the shutter button from your lawn chair.

The little brother is watching... (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615410)

The little brother is taking pictures. And videos...

He posts them to the Internet for the rest of the little brothers and sisters to see.

Re:The little brother is watching... (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615638)

Yeah dude, I loved that book.

Old news, already here a month or two ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615416)

Get with, eds.

This is not AMC, you know.

Details of the hardware ... (3, Interesting)

krou (1027572) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615430)

... can be found here: http://www.robertharrison.org/icarus/wordpress/?page_id=36 [robertharrison.org]

Re:Details of the hardware ... (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615452)

slashdotted

Re:Details of the hardware ... (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615460)

The site's /.ed, so no they can't (At least for me, I'm getting a DB connection error). But I look forward to looking at them once it's back online...

Re:Details of the hardware ... (3, Informative)

krou (1027572) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615546)

Cached version of the document: http://66.102.9.132/search?q=cache:njwe-6zv-8MJ:www.robertharrison.org/icarus/wordpress/%3Fpage_id%3D36+http://www.robertharrison.org/icarus/wordpress/%3Fpage_id%3D36&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=firefox-a [66.102.9.132]

(Each of the titles below has a link, so go check the document itself).

Hardware

Icarus Payload Hardware Setup Guide

This is a guide on how to set up the hardware in the Icarus payload. Currently the payload contains a Canon A560 camera and a custom designed PCB which does the tracking and communication. This PCB will probably be available from me should you wish to have a one at cost.

Timble Lassen IQ

This is an excellent GPS with a reasonable price tag. It uses the AND clause before shutdown making it perfect for high altitude work, provided your payload is not moving like a missile :-) The AND / OR clause refers to the manufacturers having to restrict GPS's from being used for missile guidance. Some manufacturers use a rule that is based on altitude OR speed and HAB often exceeds the altitude limit and the GPS shuts down. We favor GPS's that use the altitude AND speed restriction as the payload never excees the speed limits and hence the GPS keeps functioning.

Radiometrix

Established in 1985 Radiometrix specialise in the design and manufacture of low power radio products for rapid implementation of high-reliability, cable-free data links. Radiometrix is the industry's leading developer of off the-shelf, licence-exempt miniature radio modules.

ATMega8

The ATMega8 is an excellent microchip for this kind of work. There are plenty of good tools for programing this chip using Linux, Windows or the Mac see the software pages for links. An excellent website for information about programming the avr micros, as they are commonly called is AVR Freaks .

DS1821

This is a superb low temperature sensor from Dallas Semiconductor (now subsidiary of Maxim-ic). The temperature range is from -55 deg C to 150 deg C making it a good choice for HAB.

Trimble Lassen SK II

This is an alternative to the Lassen iQ and was my first GPS. If you want to work at 5v rather than 3.3v then this might be the GPS for you. Once again this uses the the Alt & Velocity rule before shtting down. This is basically to prevent people using these modules in missile guidence systems.

Gumstix Verdex

Gumstix develops and sells small, inexpensive, highly functional Linux computers for outstanding development and production systems.

Pololu Servo Controller

Futaba S3003 Servo Standard

Canon Digital Ixus 400

Re:Details of the hardware ... (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615744)

Thanks for that - I never knew about the altitude & speed restrictions on GPSs. I can imagine that would cause some head scratching if you bought the wrong one for one of these projects.

Re:Details of the hardware ... (1)

illumnatLA (820383) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615478)

That is... of course, if the site hadn't already succumbed to the Slashdot effect.

Re:Details of the hardware ... (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615822)

pics posted on Flickr since the site is /.ed

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30721501@N05/collections/72157621244472915/

Slashdotted! (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615470)

The server seems to be down, any other useful link? Did someone had the time to host the pictures elsewhere before the server went down?

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615472)

The guy's website was Slashdotted. Well done people!!!

BS? (4, Insightful)

javakah (932230) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615500)

There are pictures, and even nice videos that come out every few months from folks playing around with high altitude balloons. It seems kind of unlikely to me that NASA would have just suddenly discovered this and been amazed. Until there is confirmation from NASA, I'm just going to assume this is BS, either made up by the guy, or some prankster called him.

Re:BS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615840)

There are pictures, and even nice videos that come out every few months from folks playing around with high altitude balloons. It seems kind of unlikely to me that NASA would have just suddenly discovered this and been amazed. Until there is confirmation from NASA, I'm just going to assume this is BS, either made up by the guy, or some prankster called him.

Or any one of thousands of NASA employees got in touch on their own time. Being contacted by "a guy who worked at for Nasa" doesn't necessarily mean he caught the interest of the organization itself, rather than the personal curiosity of an individual.

Old news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615844)

Yes... This is fun stuff but nothing new here. Great going for the guys that do it and thanks for posting the pics but this is like reporting that someone stuck a camera in their model airplane.

Yawn.

Expect a repeat story in 4-6 weeks. Student-camera-GPS-balloon-NASA. Hohum.

But... (1)

dogsbreath (730413) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615912)

...if some guy's kid was accidentally carried aloft and took the pictures: THAT would be a story!

Sadly (3, Funny)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615508)

It will require more than duct tape and £500 to resurrect his server after a slashdotting.

Re:Sadly (1)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616018)

It will require more than duct tape and £500 to resurrect his server after a slashdotting.

Why? What sort of computer sustains physical damage from high utilization? Unless he overclocked it foolishly I expect that it will resume functioning at no cost whatsoever once the incoming requests drop to a low enough rate.

Photos here (5, Informative)

mccrew (62494) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615516)

Re:Photos here (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615612)

Damn, cannot access Flickr from work... are the pictures hosted elsewhere, on a site categorized in something else than "Social Networking and Personal Sites" by WebSense? :-\

Re:Photos here (1)

Punko (784684) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615810)

hmmm webSense turned off at the moment here.

BTW, interesting how the exterior temp rose near the apex of the flight - I'm not sure I understand why. But then, this is almost rocket science.

Punko

Flat Earth Society (3, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615518)

He should send a complimentary set of plans to the Flat Earth Society. They could use the perspective.

Re:Flat Earth Society (4, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615570)

No, I'm sure the Earth's curve you noticed is just a lens effect...

Flat != Rectangular (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31616246)

Flat != Rectangular

Just because the world is flat, that doesn't mean it has to be rectangular like the standard Mercator Projection map. A pizza has a circular shape, yet is flat-ish... It does have bumps and lumps due to what is placed on it. If you stand above a pizza and take a picture of the edge, low-and-behold, you get a pictures exactly like the ones supplied by the story. So, we now have experimental evidence that supports our hypothesis.

Already been done for years. (4, Informative)

Caviller (1420685) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615530)

This has bee done for year by amateurs. I have been following these people for atleast a couple of years: BEAR [sbszoo.com]

They have some AWESOME video of their attempts.

I wonder why NASA is just now finding about about this stuff???

Re:Already been done for years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615802)

NASA has certainly used weather balloons to take pictures before. Sounds like someone misinterpreted the pictures as having come from a model rocket, and wanted to know how they got one that high for prices a typical person could afford.

Re:Already been done for years. (1)

mahiskali (1410019) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615972)

Mr Harrison holds the record for the highest HAB flight at 22 miles (35km)

I think it was just the sheer fact that he reached such a tremendous altitude with the equipment (and how well it all worked all things considered). Honestly it was probably some engineer at NASA that saw this and thought "damn that's pretty cool, I should talk to this guy about it" and nothing more than that really.

soo i guess i should do all those simple things (1)

cryoman23 (1646557) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615548)

soo i guess i should do all those simple things and get nasa to call me up? what do u think? should i?

Not Space (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615576)

a balloon-mounted camera that can travel up to 21.7 miles (35km) above the surface of the Earth

According to most people, space starts at 100km [wikipedia.org] . It's impossible for a balloon to get that high, because there is no atmosphere at that height - and balloons require atmosphere. Even the blog specifically states:

...pictures of the Earth from near space...

So, there it is. Not space. Only near space. Summary is wrong.

Re:Not Space (3, Insightful)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615734)

True, but "Balloon and Duct Tape Deliver Great Really High, Almost Space Photos" doesnt have the same ring.

College kids did it for a heck of a lot less money (5, Informative)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615598)

Umm a couple of college kids fom MIT did this last year for $150 dollars. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/09/the-150-space-camera-mit-students-beat-nasa-on-beer-money-budget/ [wired.com]

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615888)

$150 is just for the camera rig. How much did it cost to follow it and recover it after it falls back to earth?

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (2, Informative)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616170)

http://space.1337arts.com/ [1337arts.com] Here is more info about their experiment. They paid 150 for all the equipment.

All of our supplies (including camera, GPS tracking, weather balloon, and helium) were purchased for less than a grand total of $150.

So the tracking part was included, and if you read just a little farther it says it landed 20 miles away. I don't know home much gas costs around MIT, But I'm gonna assumed they didn't stray past $200.

P.S. I should have posted that link as well earlier, its linked on the Wired.com page.

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615930)

From the pics available at both sites, I think the $500 version offers much more impressive pictures.

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (1)

Leto-II (1509) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616074)

500 British pounds, not US dollars. Around $750 according to the current exchange rate.

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (1)

mahiskali (1410019) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616002)

This is true, but don't forget that Harrison already reached an altitude far higher than the college kids (they hit about t18 miles, whereas Harrison reached about 22 miles--sure "only" 4 miles but I wonder if the cost is more in the balloon and material difference between the two).

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616208)

That is an interesting point, and I wouldn't be surprised if that did play a difference.

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31616198)

UK and Morehead State universities teamed up to achieve this with no budget almost two and a half years ago.
http://ssl.engr.uky.edu/nearspace/balloon1

Re:College kids did it for a heck of a lot less mo (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616316)

Looks like a college sponsored event, with help/participation from a local middle school. I assure you they did not do it with "no budget". Somebody has to buy a the equipment. The US gov also sent up balloon like this back in the 40's, its not a achievement because it hasn't been done, its and achievement cause they did it so cheaply.

MiccyGee! (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615628)

I nominate Robert Harrison for the sequel series to MacGyver.

Given NASA's new budget cuts... (3, Insightful)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615632)

...this guy could be a leading US space pioneer for the next decade or so.

Re:Given NASA's new budget cuts... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616168)

Of course the fact that NASA has had actual increases in budget over the last couple of years does not matter. It was a PROGRAM cut that is occurring. Big difference.

Slashdotted..? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615658)

I keep getting "Error establishing a database connection"

NASA called? (1)

IronChef (164482) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615794)

Who was it? Someone from the cafeteria? It seems like NASA engineers should not be surprised by the idea of using balloons to loft instruments.

http://astrophysics.gsfc.nasa.gov/balloon/ [nasa.gov]

If the agency wanted to take equivalent pictures, I am sure someone there could figure out how to do it with less than millions of dollars and a rocket.

Re:NASA called? (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616036)

My guess is that they were trying to figure out if someone hacked their image library!

Altimeter (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615836)

I wonder what the final altitude is before the balloon bursts? The next person to make one of these needs to put an altimeter [wikipedia.org] in it, preferably one that can can stamp the images with the altitude.

Also how hard would it be to make one of these to carry a person? If Virgin Galactic [virgingalactic.com] is going to charge $200,000 to carry someone to the edge of space, wouldn't it be cooler to ride a balloon to space and then parachute back to earth?

Re:Altimeter (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616010)

"Cooler" is right. Unless you want to invest in a heated and pressurized suit, as well as a supply of oxygen, you'd have a nice ascent, but then freeze to death.

Re:Altimeter (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616134)

Also how hard would it be to make one of these to carry a person? If Virgin Galactic [virgingalactic.com] is going to charge $200,000 to carry someone to the edge of space, wouldn't it be cooler to ride a balloon to space and then parachute back to earth?

If those reality TV people can make a fake UFO to carry off their kid (or not), it can't be all that hard.

Re:Altimeter (2, Funny)

bhima (46039) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616222)

Joseph Kittinger would agree.

Seen this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31615920)

I think I have seen this before with several small differences. Maybe the baloon altitude was not this much, but this is nothing new. Actually I think you can do much better with the smartphones available now, probably cheaper too.
Its easier to program smartphones (especially if you go with android). But kudos to the guy for taking nice pictures. I always enjoy these pictures.

Why is this better than NASAs balloon program? (3, Informative)

dtolman (688781) | more than 3 years ago | (#31615968)

I mean... whats the big deal here that NASA would care?

It has its own high altitide balloon program - where they do real science - for weeks at a time - not just cool pictures for a few hours...

http://astrophysics.gsfc.nasa.gov/balloon/ [nasa.gov]
http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

Another low tech solution (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616088)

If you want to play with this kind of thing, attach a cheap digital camera to a kite. Set it for video recording (so you don't have to hack in some kind of repeating timer), and launch the kite. You'll proably see a lot of swaying of the camera (play with different mounts), but you should be able to get some intresting photos of the area. It wont be 22 miles, but even a couple hundred feet can be intresting.

Thankfully ballon boy's dad did not know this (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616214)

He would have incurred LARGE costs on this one.

This "story" is bollocks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31616254)

"A guy phoned up who worked for NASA"? Who? The gardener? Bollocks.

"He wanted to know how the hell we did it." Bollocks. Just bollocks.

Step 1 - Do something unremarkable with a balloon, duct tape and a camera

Step 2 -Submit story about it to Slashdot, complete with bogus claims regarding NASA adulation

Step 3 - Profit!!!!!

Are Slashdot editors becoming even more gullible, or are they that desperate for front page filler material?

This seems to get attention every few months (3, Funny)

ferrocene (203243) | more than 3 years ago | (#31616328)

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