Lost-in-space GoPro camera returns to earth with amazing results

A GoPro camera was reunited with its owners two years after they launched it to the edge of space on a weather balloon. The video it captured shows stunning images of the Grand Canyon from the stratosphere. 

GoPro camera and owner reunited - with stunning results.

GoPro camera and owner reunited - with stunning results. Image by TAKA@P.P.R.S / CC BY-SA 2.0

“In June 2013, a group of friends launched a weather balloon a few miles from Tuba City, Arizona,” Bryan Chan posted on his YouTube account. “The amazing footage was found two years later by an Arizona hiker.”

The group also attached a cell phone with GPS to the weather balloon to help track down the balloon once it returned to Earth. Only, as Chan explained on Reddit, that part of the plan encountered some difficulty—which is why they didn’t get their equipment back until recently:

"We planned our June 2013 launch at a specific time and place such that 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. We didn't know this was the problem at the time - we thought our trajectory model was far off and it landed in a signal dead zone (turns out the model was actually quite accurate). The phone landed ~50 miles away from the launch point, from what I recall. It's a really far distance considering there's hardly any roads over there!"

Weather balloon.

Weather balloon. Image by Marion Doss / CC BY-SA 2.0

"Two years later, in a twist of ironic fate, a woman who works at AT&T was on a hike one day and spotted our phone in the barren desert. She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend's SIM card. We got the footage and data a few weeks later!"

The weather balloon reached an altitude of 98,664 feet during its 98-minute flight. In addition to the flight, the video includes footage of the launch preparations and data analysis.

 GoPros falling to Earth with dazzling—or at least amusing—results are actually a bit of a thing:

In 2014, a GoPro that had accidentally fallen from a skydiving plane was found by a person—but footage revealed that a curious pig actually had discovered it first.

Also in 2014, daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s 24-mile free fall to Earth provided eight minutes of spectacular (if sometimes nauseating) GoPro video

And at this year’s Burning Man, a GoPro supposedly fell from a drone to the main stage at a rave.

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