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This Week in STEM: Students Send iPhone into Space Using a Balloon


iPhone in Space (image courtesty of iPhonehacks.com)

iPhone in Space (image courtesy of iPhonehacks.com)

The warranty on an iPhone covers a lot of extenuating circumstances but a group of students from Giles Academy in Lincolnshire, England may want to read the fine print because space travel is probably not covered!

The students sent an iPhone into space by tying it to a balloon.  The experiment – which was 2 years in the making – involved a fundraising campaign to gather the parts for the launch.  They attached the phone, a GPS tracker and a flight tracker to the balloon in order to determine where to find it after its flight.  The iPhone camera was able to capture two and a half hours of flight footage which shows a spectacular view of the earth’s curvature.

After a flight which took it 18 miles into the air, the iPhone landed roughly 40 miles away from the initial launch site.

In addition to the spectacular imagery, the students learned two valuable lessons:

  1. It is possible to get hi-resolution images from space using nothing more than an ordinary iPhone, and
  2. Always use someone else’s iPhone if you are going to send it into space.

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