A man in West Yorkshire, Great Britain has managed to snap some stunning photos of the Earth from space using a compact Canon digital camera and a hot air balloon kit that cost him just £500.
Putting NASA and their mega-budgets to shame, Robert Harrison spent just $747 taking his photos from 22 miles above the planet’s surface. The IT director from West Yorkshire attached a digital camera to a weather balloon and launched it from his back garden.
He used free software readily available online to program his camera to wake up every 5 minutes and take 8 photos and a video. Harrison has completed 12 launches, and appears to hold the record for highest flight at 22 miles.
He wraps the camera, a radio transmitter, and the GPS device he uses to retrieve the package in insulation, which allows the electronics to function at -76 degrees (see the picture below).
He was in a pub when the first photos came down, “and I was gobsmacked when I got the images,” he says. “That’s a lifetime achievement.”
“A guy phoned up who worked for NASA who was interested in how we took the pictures,” he told the Times. “He wanted to know how the hell we did it. He thought we used a rocket. They said it would have cost them millions of dollars.”
“My family and friends thought I was a bit mad at first but they were suitably impressed with the results,” said the married father of three from Highburton, West Yorkshire.
“The pictures speak for themselves. People think this is something that costs millions but it doesn’t.”
He has now launched a series of high-altitude balloons as part of “The Icarus Project,” and his photos — which show the curvature of the planet — have some high-profile admirers.