Engineer launches balloon, beer cooler into space
A New Brunswick engineer launched a weather balloon carrying a Styrofoam beer cooler containing two cameras and a GPS unit on Sunday to take photos from the edge of the earth's atmosphere.
Brian McCain, a Fredericton engineer, and Jamie Allison, a fellow space enthusiast, released the experimental weather balloon from the Florenceville airport.
The beer cooler, containing the cameras and the GPS unit, travelled roughly 30 kilometres into the atmosphere.
When the balloon finally burst, McCain said the cooler parachuted to earth, landing in a lake about 100 kilometres from Florenceville.
He said they tracked the water cooler down and found everything was safe, including the photographs and video that the cameras took during the journey.
"So as we went further and further up, we actually started to see the sky get darker and darker and darker," McCain said.
"As you get up to the very top, what you actually see at the top half of the image is the blackness of space and you can see the curvature of the earth and you can see the atmosphere on the surface of the planet."
He said he first got the idea to launch a beer cooler into near space when he read about a similar experiment that was done by two students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The whole project cost roughly $200. McCain said he paid $50 for the balloon and $30 for two different digital cameras. The balloon was filled with 3,000 litres of helium.
The digital camera used in the project was programmed to take images every 20 seconds.
He said the trial was lucky that nothing was damaged in the fall from space.
"We definitely didn't waterproof anything and there were two holes in the box for the different cameras to point out of," he said. "And fortunately it landed on one side that didn't have a hole on it. It floated to shore so we were able to easily retrieve it."