In June 2014, five friends in Arizona planned to send a GoPro, a camcorder, and a phone up in a weather balloon to record some footage of space. Bryan Chan, Ved Chirayath, Ashish Goel, Paul Tarantino, and Tyler Reid, all college students, built their gadget, calculated its trajectory, registered with the FAA to avoid interfering with passing planes, and then launched the balloon in the desert a few miles outside of Tuba City.
They intended to use GPS on the attached smartphone to track the balloon’s movement, but as the device floated out of the cell phone tower range, they lost communication with the locator.
The group had been wondering for months if they would ever get their balloon and cameras back. In actuality, they would have to wait two years to realize the benefits of their project. They got a call from an unknown number after 2 years, saying that a hiker in Arizona had discovered a bizarre box with their names on it 50 miles from their original launch place.
When the team was reunited with their gear, they were able to witness the incredible video and photographs that the cameras had produced–including a stunning “money shot” of the Grand Canyon captured from the stratosphere (above).
The group of friends also had the opportunity to analyse the data from their equipment, discovering that the balloon had reached a height of 98,664 feet and had flown for 1 hour and 38 minutes.