New Space and Tech

Student Weather Balloon With Cameras Sees Lubbock from 100,000 Feet

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
Filed under , , , ,

Erich Leeth: This is what space looks like from a weather balloon. We’re working on determining exactly what altitude we got to, but I’d put it somewhere near 100,000 feet. Photos on Flickr

You can see about half of the city of Lubbock along the bottom of the photo just right of center.
We launched our little spacecraft (Cygnus) at 9:02am from ‎33° 49′ 28″N 102° 53′ 56″W, and it touched back down to Earth at 11:56am at 33° 19′ 21″N 101° 59′ 42″W. 62 miles from where it was released. This image was taken 1 hour and 55 minutes into the flight.
The camera was traveling in a styrofoam beer cooler from Wal Mart. The cooler was lifted into space using a 22 foot weather balloon filled with Helium. A parachute was attached to the cooler to slow and stabilize the fall of the cooler when the balloon eventually popped from lack of air pressure as it rose closer to the vacuum of space.

There were some issues with frost building up on the plexiglass shield and it actually ruined most of the images. Live and learn I suppose. We’ll get it down next time. Most people we’ve seen do this online take 3-6 months of planning and preparation before they launch something. We did it in 13 days. I guess it’s only fitting that we overlooked something. I’m just glad we found it and everything was still in one piece!

Because there was so much issue with frost, I did my best to remove it from this image. It made the curve of the Earth a little bumpy in the left half of the image, but you can see what it should look like toward the right edge.

Check out a video of the balloon being released here!

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.