Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Apple iPhone travels to the upper stratosphere and back, doesn’t skip a beat

iphone weather balloon Apple iPhone travels to the upper stratosphere and back, doesnt skip a beat

This is why I love science. As part of a science project, a Dad, his son, and others who are part of the Brooklyn Space Program sent a capsule attached to a weather balloon into space with the hopes of recording some stellar video and retrieving the unit when it fell back to earth. The team designed an insulated capsule which contained a Go Pro Hero HD camera and an iPhone, which was used to track the craft via GPS. Eight months of research and development went into the project.

The team, headed by Luke Geissbuhler, launched the capsule and weather balloon from Newburgh, NY earlier this year. The craft had to meet a myriad of FCC regulations to launch and was designed to sustain the harsh conditions present in the Earth’s stratosphere. The craft was assembled on site and launched smoothly. Post-launch, the craft initially climbed 25 feet per second and continued climbing until it reached the stratosphere.

The craft and its sensitive electronics were subject to 100MPH winds and external temperatures as low as -60°C. To be fair, the hand warmer on the inside helped to offset any extreme temperatures. After 70 minutes in flight, the craft reached an altitude of 100,000 ft (19 miles high). At this staggering height, the weather balloon burst and the craft began its downward descent. The capsule and balloon initially fell at speeds up to 150MPH even with a deployed parachute. Thankfully, this parachute softened the landing by slowing the capsule down to 15MPH when it began to approach Earth.

Unfortunately, the camera died two minutes shy of the landing so the team was not able to capture the end of this exciting journey. While the camera dies, the iPhone shines. At this crucial endpoint of the flight, the iPhone begins sending its GPS co-ordinates to the team, enabling them to locate the capsule a mere 30 miles from the launch site. The entire journey is chronicled in the video below. Take my word for it, it is worth six minutes of your time.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

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[Via 9to5Mac and the Brooklyn Space Program]

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