Teenager floats £30 camera into space to capture curvature of Earth

They look like they could be the latest images taken from a multi-million pound NASA satellite but these stunning snaps were actually taken from a £30 camera bought off eBay by a teenager.

Adam Cudworth, 19, managed to capture these incredible views of the earth from space using little more than a balloon and his second-hand camera.

And while NASA spends hundreds of millions of pounds each year on high tech satellites Adam, whose scientific background consists of only a Physics A-Level, achieved his incredible feat – on a £200 budget.

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The student spent 40 hours working on a home-made device consisting of a box containing a GPS, radio and microprocessor – which soared to an incredible height of 110,210 ft (33,592m) when he released it last Thursday.

After taking two-and-a-half hours to float over 20 miles up into the earth’s stratosphere, his contraption captured out-of-this-world images giving breathtaking views of our planet from space.

Adam used a GPS tracker similar to a car’s sat-nav to follow its progress and an attached radio transmitter to find it when it fell back to earth having reached speeds of over 150mph.

The teenager, from Ombersley, Worcs., said: “It’s just a bit of hobby really, I just wanted to set myself a challenge – but I’m amazed at the results.

“I saw a guy who did a similar thing a couple of years back and I just wanted to recreate them – but better.

“I have no background in astrophysics or anything like that, I’m just an engineering student.

“People think its something that costs millions of pounds but I’ve proved you can do it on just a £200 budget.”

Adam bought a standard Canon A570 camera off eBay a year-and-a-half ago when he first had the idea for the project.

He placed it in an insulated box along with a small video camera, two temperature sensors, two high-performance solar panels, a tracking device, microprocessor and radio.

The Nottingham University student then attached it to a high-altitude two metre latex balloon with a parachute – and named his contraption HABE 5.

Following the launch, Adam tracked the balloon as it climbed to three times the height of a commercial plane before it burst and landed in Broadway, Worcs., 30 miles from his home.

The built-in circuit board allowed for Adam to cleverly record the speed, G-force and altitude his balloon was reaching at all times.

And incredible video footage taken alongside the photos, shows HABE 5 swirling through the clouds to dizzying heights.

He added: “When I retrieved the camera I was stunned – it had captured some incredible photos and footage.

“The exposure settings were different to my previous two attempts and I used materials which would be more robust in extreme temperatures and this led to clearer photos at altitude.

“The onboard video camera recorded great footage close to the ground after launch, however the lens fogged up at about 3km in altitude because moisture got in the lens – but it still looked rather impressive.

“I’m now working on project, which will allow me to control where the box lands when it falls back to earth.

“But that’s work in progress at the minute and I’ll have to be content with this for now.”