View Full Version : Million Dollar NASA Photos Beaten by Budget Balloon

09-09-2010, 06:25 PM
Amazing space photos taken with a digital camera and helium balloon.

It’s amazing what a little British ingenuity and a shoe-string budget can achieve. These glorious photos of space were taken by amateur enthusiast Robert Harrison, using a cheap Canon digital camera, some duct tape and a helium balloon.

In total, the rudimentary space camera cost just 500 ($747) on a project which a NASA spokesman admitted would have cost them millions of dollars.
Speaking to The Times, Mr Harrison explained: “A guy phoned up who worked for NASA who was interested in how we took the pictures. He wanted to know how the hell we did it.” The space experts thought Mr Harrison must have used a homemade rocket to take such spectacular shots from over 20 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The device uses materials readily available online, including loft insulation to wrap both the camera and a GPS tracking device to protect the digital equipment from freezing temperatures of -60C (-75F). The helium balloon which lifted the camera high above the Earth’s atmosphere expands to a diameter of up to 20 metres, before popping and letting the camera fall back to Earth via an attached parachute.
Mr Harrison said that he was by no means an electronics expert, and had picked up all he needed to know from browsing the internet, including how to reprogram his digital camera to sleep and reactivate every five minutes to take eight photos.

The shots recovered from this simple but highly effective method of automated photography have yielded some amazing results. The camera was also rigged to take brief film footage as it hung above the Earth’s atmosphere.
We have republished just some of the amazing photos taken here, but you can see the full collection at Mr Harrison’s dedicated website – The Icarus Project.

tony hipchest
09-09-2010, 06:40 PM
i have a similar post a while back where i think it was an MIT student did this for less than $200.

great photos. i'll dig it up.

a few months ago i had to have my giant lanier office copier worked on. they sent a tech from roswell. he didnt have the part on him, so to avoid travel cost and ordering a new part, he rigged up some macguyver shit he said would work better than the part itself.

real cool dude. long haired self taught computer geek who didnt even graduate high school.

he showed me his website where he posted pictures of distant nebulas and galaxies he took form his rig in his back yard. he used an expensive 35mm camera and about $10,000 of good computers and networking gear.

i said "what about your telescope"? he said you dont need one.

the camera is just like your eyeball, and just because your eye cant "see" the light, doesnt mean photons arent hitting it.

i'll try to find that link too.

tony hipchest
09-09-2010, 06:45 PM
MIT student takes near space photos on $150 budget


Bellevue grad, MIT student uses helium balloon to capture near-space photosOliver Yeh hopes his low-budget experiment in near-space photography will inspire other students. But the Federal Aviation Administration says future flights need a check-in with the FAA.

When he launched a cheap digital camera into the stratosphere with a weather balloon, a styrofoam cooler and disposable hand warmers, former Bellevue student Oliver Yeh hoped his low-budget experiment in near-space photography would inspire other students to do the same.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, and 2006 graduate of Bellevue's Newport High, got some stunning photos of the Earth from an estimated 93,000 feet — about 17.5 miles high, far above the cruising altitude of commercial airplanes.

But was it legal?

heres his site with the kick ass pics. cool thing is, hes gonna post a step by step guide for free so we can do it too-

Project Icarus


09-09-2010, 06:56 PM
i think the title "project icarus" is being over used....:chuckle:

09-10-2010, 01:33 PM
"The helium balloon which lifted the camera high above the Earth’s atmosphere expands to a diameter of up to 20 metres, before popping "

that has to be one hell of a pop

tony hipchest
09-10-2010, 02:08 PM
here is a picture of the space camera, the copy repairman built.


check out his gallery of nebula pictures-


and galaxies-


No Copyright Photos by Robert Long.... No Rights Reserved, feel free to copy, modify or use as you see fit.

i was amazed by what robert was showing me and explaining. i asked him what the hell he was doing fixing copy machines, and if he could turn his hobby into cash.

he said there is a ton of amateur astronomers all over america (most of whom would love to hav a rig like his, but have no clue how its done or built). he said eventually he plans on building them for commission.

09-10-2010, 02:23 PM
wow....nice pics ... :thumbsup: