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This gives me hope .... Students put camera "almost" into space with $150 budget.

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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:34 PM
Original message
This gives me hope .... Students put camera "almost" into space with $150 budget.
This photo was taken by a student project with a budget of $150



The two students (from MIT, of course) put together a low-budget rig to fly a camera high enough to photograph the curvature of the Earth. Instead of rockets, boosters and expensive control systems, they filled a weather balloon with helium and hung a styrofoam beer cooler underneath to carry a cheap Canon A470 compact camera. Instant hand warmers kept things from freezing up and made sure the batteries stayed warm enough to work.

SNIP

Of course, all this would be pointless if the guys couldnt find the rig when it landed, so they dropped a prepaid GPS-equipped cellphone inside the box for tracking. Total cost, including duct tape? $148.

SNIP

The picture you see above was shot from around 93,000 feet, just shy of 18 miles high. Its short of the widely-accepted Krmn line, which is at 100km (62 miles) up, but its in the stratosphere, and its still impressive. To give you an idea of how high that is, when the balloon burst, the beer-cooler took 40 minutes to come back to Earth.

What is most astonishing about this launch, named Project Icarus, is that anyone could do it. The budget is so small as to be almost nonexistent (the guys slept in their car the night before the launch to save money), so that even if everything went wrong, a second, third or fourth attempt would be easy. All it took was a grand idea and an afternoon poking around the hardware store.


http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/09/the-150-space-ca... /

Pretty cool stuff IMHO
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wicket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. God I love geeks!
Too cool.
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anigbrowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
2. It is cool. I have only one minor beef with it...
...which is that the MIT students have been taking credit for having come up with the idea, it was first done (on a similarly tiny budget) by a group of high school students in Spain last February.

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-328198
Yeh stressed the groundbreaking nature of their work. The fact that we were able to accomplish space photography on such a low budget and with minimal electronic modifications proves that its really possible for anyone anyone at all to do. Imagine how many students might be inspired if their high school science teacher took the time to give his students an out-of-this-world experience.

Oh, indeed.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat...
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.

Taking atmospheric readings and photographs 20 miles above the ground, the Meteotek team of IES La Bisbal school in Catalonia completed their incredible experiment at the end of February this year.

Building the electronic sensor components from scratch, Gerard Marull Paretas, Sergi Saballs Vila, Marta Gasull Morcillo and Jaume Puigmiquel Casamort managed to send their heavy duty 43 latex balloon to the edge of space and take readings of its ascent.


Good on the MIT guys for replicating the experiment, but credit where credit is due and all. I'm disappointed by their implication that they thought it up all by themselves.

1 = ~$1.40, by the way.
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Rick Myers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Also done by a MAKE group in California last year
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anigbrowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:59 PM
Response to Reply #3
12. wrong part of thread nt
Edited on Tue Sep-22-09 03:01 PM by anigbrowl
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:01 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. The MIT team states they will make detailed plans, parts lists, and instructions available.
Starting from their model and modifying it likely avoid "reinventing the wheel" and spending more time improving it.

I wonder if it is possible to rig a gyro to keep the camera from rotating?
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anigbrowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:18 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Gyro sounds like a lot of work (& weight)
it's possible, a lot of new phones have accelerometers in, but you'd have to match the weight of the payload. I think you'd get better bang for the buck with some simple stabilizers or a double-balloon system and let the wind work for you.

How long before this becomes a fashion and the UFO peeps declare an invasion, I wonder :-)
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. They acknowledge that on their website
Edited on Tue Sep-22-09 03:07 PM by Statistical
We are a group of MIT students seeking to share the artistic aspects of science with others. On Sept. 2, 2009, we launched a digital camera into near-space to take photographs of the earth from high up above. (see Flight)

Several groups have accomplished similar feats (see Other Launches), but as far we know, we are the first group ever to:

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

**Note: For readers who are curious about how our flight costs stacked up against the group of Spanish high school students that have been mentioned in many of the website comments, here is a quote about their costs from NewScientist:
If we count the balloon itself, plus the helium, antennas, sensors and so on, we spent about 1000 ($1357).
(Source: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16805 )

So they spent about $1350 for their project. I would like to reiterate that high-altitude balloon photography has been around for a LONG time. (decades, probably) What is special about what weve done is our low budget and ease of assembly/creation.


http://space.1337arts.com /

They acknowledge that they aren't the first just the cheapest and most DIY.
Any fault would be with articles if they are unclear making it look like they were first.
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anigbrowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. Aha, well spotted
I went to their website last week but they didn't have that info up then.
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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
4. I'm curious...
If they had any idea at all where it was going to come down.
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. No that was what the cellphone was for.
They programmed it to call out w/ GPS info periodically.
They had given up home when it "called home" it landed 25 miles from where they launched it.
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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. I guess then..
they just weren't concerned about it landing on somebody's head?
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. They had a parachute and designed it to fall slow enough that it wouldn't break an egg.
Edited on Tue Sep-22-09 03:05 PM by Statistical
They tested multiple designs until they found one that would protect a egg falling from 5 story building (terminal velocity).

http://space.1337arts.com /

Yhey also did it in rural area for that exact reason and have a warning on their website.

***CAUTION/DISCLAIMER: Launching things into the stratosphere can be DANGEROUS! Please contact the FAA before trying any launches (even if they are under 4 lbs.) to make sure your vehicle wont be entering restricted airspace and PLEASE check the University of Wyomings Balloon Trajectory Predictor(or a similar website) to make sure you balloon wont be landing in the city/a populated area where it might cause significant damage. Also, be sure to test your balloons terminal velocity for descent before launching. We tested our parachute by putting eggs inside of our styrofoam box and tossing the box off of a 5 story building. We were not satisfied with the landing speed of our box until the eggs did not break upon the boxs impact.


There are risks to everything but it looks like they tried to minimize the risks.
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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #11
16. I see. Thanks!
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
5. More liberal propaganda and a doctored photo no less. Everybody knows the earth is flat.
And has been for 6000 years.

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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:49 PM
Response to Original message
7. Our smart kids are just as good as anyone else's. Problem is, there's not enough of them %-wise...
Edited on Tue Sep-22-09 02:49 PM by BlooInBloo
FYI, here's the science forum post about it: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 02:51 PM
Response to Original message
8. They could have got it higher if they used glenn beck for the hot air
:)
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berni_mccoy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
14. They Will Burn In Hell for Poking God in The Eye!!1!
:sarcasm:

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yawnmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:11 PM
Response to Original message
17. Whats really nice here is the low cost of their experiment. There is much ballooning by others, too
for instance, check out these sites:

amateur radio high altitude balloons (ham radio operators in near space!)
http://www.arhab.org /

more pictures here
http://www.amsat.org/amsat/balloons/balloon.htm
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Soylent Brice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:18 PM
Response to Original message
19. awesome story.
K&R

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Irreverend IX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
20. There's a group of people called Edge of Space who were doing this around 10 years ago...
Launching balloons into low orbit is nothing new, the price point is the major breakthrough.
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