What where you doing at the age of 19? Smoking pot? Snorting weed? Dancing to Metallica? While I don’t know what you were doing at that age, I do know what you weren’t doing — snapping awesome photos of our planet from outer-space using something you built buying parts off eBay. Adam Cudworth, on the other hand, is a different story.
Adam Cudworth, a nineteen year old engineering student at Nottingham University, built a homemade spacecraft consisting of a Canon A570 digital camera put in an insulated box containing a GPS chip, radio transmitter, and a self-programmed microprocessor. Cudworth then attached his contraption, dubbed HABE (High Altitude Balloon Experiments), to an air balloon and launched HABE into space where it captured NASA-quality photos of Earth from a height of 110,210 ft (roughly 20 miles above ground). Once HABE landed back on Earth (after the balloon burst in space), Cudworth was able to retrieve the photos by locating HABE using the GPS chip and radio transmitter he included.
The following are the out of this world photos (literally) Cudworth snapped:
Stunning. Absolutely stunning. HABE was also able to capture some photos of Earth landscape while it was ascending to space, which you can view on Cudworth’s Flickr page.
The best part? It cost Cudworth roughly $600 (£200) in parts, some of which he bought off eBay such as the camera, to build his HABE contraption. Of course it isn’t fair to compare Cudworth’s experiment to the millions upon millions of dollars NASA spends on space research simply because of the vast differences in complexity; however, if a nineteen year old university student can snap awesome photos of Earth on less than $1,000, you may be asking yourself where are your tax dollars going.
Despite the relatively low cost of Cudworth’s project, don’t let yourself think it was an easy task that anyone can do over a weekend. Cudworth spent roughly 40 hours of his free time building HABE and had two failed attempts prior to this successful one. On the other hand, it should be mentioned Cudworth claims to be no genius nor does he have any experience in physics outside of a high school physics class so it is possible that you may be able to create your own HABE and follow in Cudworth’s footsteps; after all, Cudworth himself was inspired by someone else:
I saw a guy who did a similar thing a couple of years back and I just wanted to recreate them – but better.
Cudworth’s next project? Trying to control where HABE lands upon descent back to Earth. Best of lucky, buddy.