BY BILL FERRIS
Hey, I’m blastin’ off here!
The Brooklyn Space Program, consisting of “a group of friends in New York City interested in scientific experiments, engineering, design and education,” sent an HD camera and an iPhone into outer space (!) via weather balloon. The camera reached an altitude of 19 miles before the balloon burst. The resulting footage looks like something taken by a satellite, albeit a satellite susceptible to wind turbulence. To think that a homemade father-and-son science project was able to capture the curvature of the earth and the inky blackness of space first-hand is pretty inspiring.
You may have already seen this video elsewhere online, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t put this on Instructify, since the educational possibilities for a project like this are pretty outstanding. Consider the considerations they had to consider to pull this off — working out how to retrieve the camera, rigging a parachute to deploy during the descent, cushioning the camera and iPhone for their eventual impact with the earth, not to mention how to safeguard sensitive electronic equipment from the icy cold of space. This project presents several juicy problems for student scientists and engineers to solve.
The BSP is publishing a small how-to book for science-minded folks wanting to send their own balloon to space. Not to steer you away from supporting a worthy cause, but I think part of the value of this sort of project is in figuring out how to do it yourself. Either way, it’s a great idea, and even cooler than the baking-soda volcanoes we made when I was a kid.