For two years, a GoPro camera attached to a balloon was lost after being launched into space by Stanford University students. A couple years ago, the camera was finally recovered when a hiker in Arizona discovered it, basically intact.
The recovered camera contained incredible footage of Arizona’s Grand Canyon from space.
One of the people who originally launched the GoPro balloon, Stanford student Bryan Chan said that they equipped a high-altitude weather balloon with a GoPro camera and a phone with GPS tracking, and launched it near the Grand Canyon on June 8, 2013. The purpose of the launch was to gather some data for his aerospace engineering dissertation.
The team consisted of Bryan Chan and his classmates and friends Ashish Goel, Paul Tarantino, Ved Chirayath and Tyler Reid.
A few miles deep out into the Earth’s stratosphere, this GoPro camera captured stunning aerial footage of the Earth and particularly the desert region of Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
“We were supposed to recover the GoPro and the phone two hours after the launch, but it ended up being two years,” Chan said. “The GoPro and phone was projected to land in an area with cell coverage, but the problem was that the cell service coverage maps we relied on weren’t accurate, so the phone didn’t have signal as it came back to Earth. We couldn’t get the text it was supposed to send with the coordinates of where it landed.”
Thankfully in March of 2015, Pearl Tsosie, a hiker in Arizona stumbled upon the crashed and surprisingly intact GoPro and phone in the middle of the barren desert, inside a Navajo Reservation close to the Grand Canyon.
The good Samaritan said she was able to take the sim card in the phone she found to an AT&T store and then they were able to identify the owner of the phone and GoPro camera.
“She was able to call my friend Ved, and we got the footage and data a few weeks later,” Chan said. “We couldn’t believe it.”
Chan uploaded the footage to YouTube, where it has accumulated millions of views.
“We’re blown away by how many people love the video,” Chan said. “I’ve got message from people saying they’ve put it on their desktop, and it’s just really great to have such an overwhelming positive response.”
Chan added that he and his team were still active on things like this in the Bay Area of California, and he might do something similar in the future again.
“We’re thinking about it for sure, and though there’s no strict timeline, we’re beginning to put plans into motion,” he concluded. “This video definitely won’t be out last.”
(Image credit: Bryan Chan)