A weather balloon just brought back its GoPro payload and some breathtaking shots of our big blue marble from the stratosphere. It was gone for two years.
Back then, Bryan Chan and four of his friends rigged a weather balloon with GoPro Hero3 for still images and a camcorder for HD video, he revealed in a Reddit post.
The smartphone's GPS receiver was supposed to periodically log the balloon's location, according to Chan. The phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note II, was loaded with an app that would attempt to send text messages to the ground team, once the handset and balloon were back within range of a cell tower.
"We planned our June 2013 launch at a specific time and place such that the phone was projected to land in an area with cell coverage," said Chan. "The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it."
The team thought they had miscalculated the balloon's path and re-entry into the troposphere. The phone, however, wasn't in some far away dead zone, outside of cellular coverage. It was about 50 miles away from where the teamed launched it.
Then "TWO YEARS LATER, in a twist of ironic fate, a woman who works at AT&T was on a hike one day and spotted our phone in the barren desert," said Chan. "She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend's SIM card."
A few weeks after the reunion, the team got this footage:
Now, here's a shot of the Grand Canyon:
So, me and some friends launched a weather balloon in Arizona. Here's an awesome picture of Earth that the side GoPro captured at around 98,000 ft. The Grand Canyon is near the top left part of the frame. Launch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EABQ5psUz70