Five university students launched their GoPro into the atmosphere by using a weather balloon in order photograph the desert from space and thought, until recently, that their project had failed.
In June 2013, a group of five Stanford University students came up with a challenging project which took several months of planning. Their experiment consisted of launching a weather balloon, that contained one smartphone and two cameras, into the atmosphere above the desert in Arizona.
The students planned to use a smartphone app in order to locate, through GPS-coordinates, the two cameras and the smartphone once they landed in the desert on a parachute. Although their plan was well thought, it failed miserably.
When trying to reach the phone through text, they could not get a hold of it.
In a Reddit post, Bryan Chan, one of the students involved in the experiment, explained that once it was time to return to Earth the smartphone did not get any reception. The students used an erroneous AT&T (phone company) coverage map and their equipment landed 50 miles away from the initially estimated location, though the area where it landed should have had mobile phone coverage.
Little did Chan and his friends know that it would take another two years before the cameras would be returned to them.
“We were all moping around, making bets on when, if ever, it would be found for a while when, just a couple months ago, a woman contacts us about finding a weird box with our name on it,” wrote Bryan Chan in his post on Reddit.
Pearl Tsosie, an AT&T employee, was on a hike the day that she came across the students’ phone in the desert. After bringing it to the AT&T store, they successfully identified the SIM card and traced it back to one of the students. Not long after, the students got all of their data and footage from the cameras back, explained Chan in his lengthy post.
From the footage it was estimated that the balloon reached a height of approximately 19 miles, before dropping to the ground.
Protected in a sturdy box, the equipment was not damaged even after two years of laying in the harsh desert weather, before begin discovered and traced back to its original owners.
The footage can now be seen online, after being uploaded on the internet by Mr. Chan and his team.
Image Source: petapixel