Continuing the growing line of apps-driven EDA360 Insider blog entries, the news today carried the strange and exhilarating story of a 7-year-old elementary school student named Max and his cinematographer father Luke Geissbühler who developed an iPhone-based payload for a weather balloon and launched it to 90,000 feet just outside of New York City. They call their science project the “Brooklyn Space Program.” The iPhone was running a GPS app, to phone home after the payload’s return and a companion HD camcorder recorded the journey on video from the ground to the stratosphere where the sky turns dark indigo. You can see the distinct curvature of the earth from 90,000 feet. You can also see the Jello-shutter video effect that’s characteristic of a CMOS sensor in an inexpensive Flash camcorder as the payload platform wheels in the high stratospheric winds. Then the balloon pops from overexpansion and the payload package makes its rapid descent. Unfortunately, the camcorder batteries poop out just two minutes before touchdown, but the retrieval team still finds and recovers the package based on the GPS transmission from the iPhone.
Here’s the video:
External batteries kept the payload’s electronics package running and chemical handwarmers kept the electronics operating in a comfortable environment. (At 90,000 feet, the ambient temperature is about -50 °F.) Incredibly, the payload fell to earth and landed in a tree only 30 miles from the launch point, slowed by a parachute.
According to reports, the iPhone survived its trip into space.