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View Full Version : MIT students launch $150 Space Camera



Selenite
2009-Sep-18, 04:42 AM
Found this intriguing. High-altitude balloons carrying cameras have taken pictures of the curvature of the Earth for decades, but never for such a small budget. These students improvised with a weather balloon, a beer cooler and a cheap digital camera and got some nice near-space pictures from 93,000 feet.

http://space.1337arts.com/flight

Nicolas
2009-Sep-18, 08:52 AM
Didn't the camera fall dangerously fast with a popped baloon?

And does the 150 dollar include the helium (?) to fill the balloon? I ask this because an aqcuintance is trying to break the manned balloon altitude record/parachute jump, and their problem is getting the hundreds of thousands euros together just for the helium to fill the balloon. Of course, that's a much much larger balloon.

Selenite
2009-Sep-18, 09:24 AM
Good question. Here's the page where they break down the hardware costs.

http://space.1337arts.com/hardware

Nicolas
2009-Sep-18, 10:43 AM
Their balloon: 20$ worth of helium. The one I'm talking about: 170.000$ worth of helium.

Different scale of balloon... :)

Swift
2009-Sep-18, 12:59 PM
That is so sweet. Brilliant!

djellison
2009-Sep-18, 06:27 PM
Done this a couple of times with some friends from Cambridge - they're putting together some damn good ideas - www.cuspaceflight.co.uk

I've put a Canon Powershot with a hacked firmware and a script on two flights..

James Canvin took the resulting stills and movies into mosaics.

http://www.nivnac.co.uk/blog1.php

KaiYeves
2009-Sep-18, 09:40 PM
There was a 1995 article in Odyssey magazine where Robert Zubrin (Yes, that one, not a lot of people with that surname), talked about the feasibility of these sorts of projects for students. Using a phone with GPS does reduce the need to make the balloon brightly colored or get a radio ham to help you with tracking.

Of course, if you go to a lame school like mine...

SkepticJ
2009-Sep-19, 02:06 AM
I ask this because an aqcuintance is trying to break the manned balloon altitude record/parachute jump, and their problem is getting the hundreds of thousands euros together just for the helium to fill the balloon...

Why not just use hydrogen? Sure, it's flammable, but only if it's mixed with enough oxygen; if that's happening in a balloon flight, the flammability-factor isn't the prime concern--falling to one's death is.

Nicolas
2009-Sep-19, 09:38 AM
He's already built the entire balloon. I don't know whether he could just replace the helium with hydrogen in the design. Also I think that hydrogen would still be very expensive. Finally it may be hydrogen already in his design, I'm not sure.

Anyway, this guy has a life long track record of doing internationally newsworthy crazy stuff. Flying machines, ocean crossings... I doubt he'd not use hydrogen simply because of the safety issue. He's not the kind of guy to be worried too much about safety issues. :)