Two Years Later: Spectacular Earth Footage Of Go Pro On A Balloon Retrieved

By Charissa Echavez | Sep 15, 2015 06:24 PM EDT

Perhaps this group of friends has one of the craziest ideas, ever. In June 2013, Bryan Chan and four other colleagues from Stanford University decided to release a helium-filled weather balloon 98,000 feet high not far from the Grand Canyon in Arizona with a camera and a GPS attached; unfortunately, their initial plan failed when they lost track of the phone/GPS signal as it crushed on the ground. Calling it a lost cause, their GoPro was no longer found.

The group of five students took approximately four months to prepare to record a perfect GoPro shot of Arizona. The fun project begins when they created and launched the balloon equipped with a GoPro. To easily determine the balloon's position, they attached a smartphone GPS, which, at that time, was only limited to 60,000 feet range. They calculated and estimated the gadget's possible landing place and utilize the phone to retrieve.

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"We used a GPS on a smartphone to continuously log the phone's location on its memory card. The standard GPS receiver these days can track your phone well above 100,000 ft... The phone was projected to land in an area with cell coverage. The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it," Chan said in a Reddit post.

Far from the expected landing, the device fell 50 miles away. But just as spectacular as the footages retrieved, the story ended happily when a woman, who happened to be working at AT&T, was hiking near the site came across the devices in the dirt more than two years after.  

The woman took the devices in the store and identified the SIM card's owner. The phone, camera, and photos and videos were returned a few weeks later. The video's one hour and 38 minutes flight before sitting in the dust can be viewed on Youtube.

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