On June 8, 2013, Stanford students Bryan Chan, Ved Chirayath, Ashish Goel, Tyler Reid, and Paul Tarantino launched a weather balloon outfitted with several cameras into space. The project was a part of Ved’s dissertation research in fluid lensing.
The team 3D printed a chassis that housed a GoPro Hero 3 and Sony camcorder for taking HD video, along with a Galaxy Note II for still pictures and GPS tracking.
The launch was a success but contact with the payload was lost and the team never heard from it again. While there was a backup transponder which broadcast to the amateur radio band, the signal was too faint to be of any use.
Through sheer luck, a hiker in Arizona came across the payload over two years later. By then, all identifying marks on the payload had worn off or blown away; but the hiker happened to work for a cell service provider and was able to determine how to contact the team from the registered sim card inside the phone!
So today we get to see the project in its entirety, complete with some amazing photos and video from space of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area. What an awesome ending!
Below you can see the balloon’s trajectory. For more information visit Stanford’s project website and Ved’s page on Fluid Lensing.