Up, Up, and Away
March 17, 2009 6:46 PM   Subscribe


 
Augh. Why didn't they link the Twitter feed? This is a good example of what someone (can't remember who) was blogging just the other day re: failures of online news media.
posted by limeonaire at 6:51 PM on March 17, 2009


Make Article. More pictures.

The Telegraph article says they use twitter as well, but don't provide a link.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:52 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm more impressed when people do amazing thing with 19th century technology than when they do amazing things with 21st century technology. Sure, the Victorians never piloted a hot air balloon into the ether, and, sure, launching a mecha-droid through a wormhole is totally great. But that doesn't mean I can't be impressed that balloons are still able to do things that are awesome.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 7:02 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is great. I can't stop being even more happy with this as I'm half Catalan, but nevertheless this is damn cool stuff.
posted by ob at 7:06 PM on March 17, 2009


Love balloons. Love amateur science. Would really love to do this myself. But 20 miles isn't space. There is no altitude reachable by balloon that would qualify as space.
posted by DU at 7:09 PM on March 17, 2009


Next time you get a balloon 21 miles into non-space and take gorgeous pictures of what can be seen from up there, DU, you can put these naive teenagers in their place.
posted by digaman at 7:16 PM on March 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


The kids didn't claim to have been to space. Neither did the news article. But "space program" here implied it. Just a nit. Remain calm.
posted by DU at 7:17 PM on March 17, 2009


They do graphs, too.
posted by signal at 7:26 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


See also: HALO Project
posted by Science! at 7:35 PM on March 17, 2009


The density of the atmosphere at the height that their balloon reached is probably much more similar to the atmospheric density at the height where the space station orbits than it is to the density of the atmosphere at sea level. The price was a little misleading though -- I mean, do they know some place that gives away free Nikons? If so, why didn't they provide a link to *that* in the article? In any case, rock on, young scientists, rock on.
posted by jamstigator at 7:52 PM on March 17, 2009


A lovely comment about this on Reddit:
How is this not illegal!!?!?!?
First they took away the chemical sets, and everyone said it was to keep our kids safe...
posted by shii at 7:56 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a Nikon owner, I can't say I would volunteer my baby camera for this project.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:57 PM on March 17, 2009


Neat! UC Boulder hosts a workshop called SHOT where you do the same thing - here are some in-flight pics. When I went back in 2004, we rigged up disposable cameras with auto-timers, strung them up, and attached them to a high-altitude baloon. Then we drove around in vans tracking the baloon on GPS and picking it up when it landed out in some field. Fun stuff.
posted by pravit at 8:02 PM on March 17, 2009


I'm surprised they didn't buy a bag of balloons with the money they've got. Any little toy shop should carry them.
posted by dr_dank at 8:04 PM on March 17, 2009


DU, the mention of "space" in the headline of the story might have prompted me. But to be totally transparent, as they say, I was riffing on one of my favorite jazz albums title ever: African Space Program, by Dollar Brand.

First they took away the chemical sets, and everyone said it was to keep our kids safe...

Indeed. I actually wrote the Wired story in 2006 about that, "Don't Try This at Home," which is why I have a soft spot for amateur science.
posted by digaman at 8:12 PM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't know if I'm more impressed by the photos or the fact that they were able recover the camera intact. This reminds me of when I was a kid and I always wanted one of those model rockets with the camera in the nose.
posted by MikeMc at 8:27 PM on March 17, 2009


This is awesome. I was surprised to read that they only had to travel 10km to get the equipment back. That's not far.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:30 PM on March 17, 2009


Looks like space to me.
posted by aerotive at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2009


From google's translation of their blog:
During the first few minutes the nerves were so high they tend to infinity faster than an exponential!
posted by finite at 9:00 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't decide if that translation is terrible or amazing. "Faster than an exponential" is actually sort of genius, in a clunky way.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 9:03 PM on March 17, 2009


The kids didn't claim to have been to space. Neither did the news article.

The news article I read was headlined "Teens capture images of space."
posted by Curry at 9:58 PM on March 17, 2009


I can't decide if that translation is terrible or amazing. "Faster than an exponential" is actually sort of genius, in a clunky way.

Genius? Clunky? It looks like the exact translation to me. What's weird about it?
posted by Xezlec at 10:27 PM on March 17, 2009


"The balloon we chose was inflated with helium to just over two metres and weighed just 1500 grams," said Gerard. "It was able to carry the sensor equipment and digital Nikon camera which weighed 1.5kg."

?

aahhh...mainstream media science coverage...god, i'll really try to miss it once it's gone.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:42 PM on March 17, 2009


I'm more impressed when people do amazing thing with 19th century technology than when they do amazing things with 21st century technology.

otoh, viz.
posted by kliuless at 11:36 PM on March 17, 2009


I wonder how much would chopping off the first and atmospherically thickest 100,000 feet be a boost to a model rocket (weighing, say, 1.5kg)'s maximum altitude?

Be pretty neat to make a 3 balloon platform to fire a high-powered, lightweight fiberglass rocket with that sort of head start.
posted by codswallop at 11:37 PM on March 17, 2009


Be pretty neat to make a 3 balloon platform to fire a high-powered, lightweight fiberglass rocket with that sort of head start.
Well, since - Ideally - You wouldn't want to fire until just before the balloon popped, you could just rig the rocket into some sort of carrier that would orient it the right way and fire it once it started falling... Or you could fire the rocket at an angle like The DaVinci X-prize entry was going to do....
posted by Orb2069 at 1:31 AM on March 18, 2009


If their nerves just grew as fast as an ultraexponential, or an Ackermann function, it's just suitably geeky for some guys getting ballon-views of almost-space.
posted by Iosephus at 2:16 AM on March 18, 2009


The news article I read was headlined "Teens capture images of space."

And they did. You can capture images of space from the ground.

I realize it seems pedantic, but they are claiming to be amateur scientists. Scientists need to use a little precision in terminology. Which they seem to have done, in fact, but then it got diluted. We hate science "journalists" who screw up basic facts in other stories, this is just another (mild) example of the same thing.

Additionally, there's the constant, annoying problem of...well, I don't know what the term would be. There was a post on Make a few days ago about a guy who took some small solar panels, some wire, some misc electronic components and made a motor. For simplicity, he mounted the whole thing on a Lego base. Make's title: LEGO MOTOR. If I glue a brick to a car does that make it a "LEGO CAR"? The point is, if someone ever does build a "true" lego motor, they'll be unable to popularize it because the mindshare has been taken by fakes. Similarly, calling this (cool and amazing!) feat a "space program" is a disservice to any future kids with an actual space program. What they really did is cool enough, there's no need to exaggerate.
posted by DU at 3:08 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Finally some independant verification that the world is not flat. Like I would trust NASA after all those fuzzy moon landing videos!
posted by Molesome at 4:22 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Being able to use a freely available ground tracking station in the form of google earth really says something about the society the internet is enabling. Fantastic stuff.
posted by mattoxic at 5:35 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


bat... in... spaaaaace
posted by kliuless at 8:43 AM on March 18, 2009


There is no altitude reachable by balloon that would qualify as space.

All I know is that if I were at the altitude pictured, I would say: "Holy shit. I am in space."
posted by cmoj at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


EVERYONE knows you need NINETY-NINE luftballoons, duh.
posted by jfwlucy at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2009




Near Space is defined as between 23km and 100km. There are a couple groups and tens of people around the US who launch weather balloons with tracking gear that get to around 100k feet (30km) before the balloons burst and the payload parachutes back to earth. Balloon Track is a software program that attempts to predict the flight pattern of such balloons to help in payload retrieval.

A rocket being carried aloft by a balloon before firing is called a rockoon. There is a whole heck of a lot less air resistance at 30km than at sea level so the idea is very attractive because it could dramatically lower the barrier of entry for putting things in space, perhaps even in orbit above 200km. I don't know of any amateur groups that are currently working on such a project but I've often dreamed about it.

Amateur scientists rock.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:25 AM on March 19, 2009


A rocket being carried aloft by a balloon before firing is called a rockoon.

Really? So is this. Note the similarities!

Sorry.
posted by Xezlec at 11:41 PM on March 19, 2009


up in the big pic
posted by kliuless at 1:11 PM on March 21, 2009


« Older The Great Imposter   |   Witness to a womb Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments