- Posted April 8, 2014 by
Kansas City, Missouri
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Remote aerial photography
NASA Take Notice: High-Altitude Photos For $700 Instead of Billions..
NASA's budget for 2010 was listed at 18.7 billion dollars.. It is now 2014, And I'm sure the price is more now.. A guy in Britian in 2010, proved that a multi-billion dollar budget was not needed to take a series of great high-altitude photos of planet earth. All he used was a Cannon Shureshot camera, a helium balloon, a little styrofoam box and a GPS system. The entire project came in at a cost of around $700.
Mr. Robert Harrison assembled an aerial apparatus that could take pictures from a high altitude with an ordinary off the shelf camera. The results are stunning, and have attracted the attention of NASA.
The balloon carried the tiny camera to a height of 22 miles above the earth, and was programmed to snap a shot every five minutes of it's rise through the stratosphere. Tracking the small camera with a GPS system, Harrison was able to locate and recover the payload as it returned to earth over 50 miles away from the launch point. A parachute deployed when the balloon reached a bursting altitude, to safely guide the camera and it's photos back to Mr. Harrison. The UK Mail Online recounts some of Mr. Harrison's other attempts at high-altitude photography:
Mr Harrison first got the idea to explore space after a failed attempt to take aerial pictures of his house using a remote control helicopter. After investigating high-altitude weather balloons on the internet, he launched his first mini spacecraft, named Icarus I, in October 2008.
It took dramatic shots that spanned 1,000 miles of the Earth's surface, showing the curvature-of the earth. He has since sent a dozen capsules into space.
'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.'
The balloon popped when it reached the 22 mile region of the upper atmosphere, and the parachute safely carried the camera back to earth. This is really cool in my opinion. I used to attach cameras to kites, and snap pictures from them. This is a really neat extension of that concept. Here's a schematic of how Mr. Harrison's project worked: (Click on the image for the full view).
We could use more people in the world like Mr. Harrison. Free and creative thinkers are the key to our future. You may think that all he did was send a small camera into the stratosphere; I think he accomplished a great feat of scientific exploration on a shoestring budget. Our government should take notice because it proves we can do great things with fewer dollars from taxpayers if we are inventive and creative. I love NASA and our space programs. It would be great if we could do it all on smaller budgets with a liitle more creativity and still achieve our goals for increased knowledge of our universe.