Even though the odds of getting to see the darkness of space in person are slim – just over 500 people have traveled into space – it’s possible to still see it through the lens of your camera with a small assembly project and a few cheaply obtained materials. Including a styrofoam beer cooler.
A team of students from MIT recently set a goal to capture some photos of the curvature of the earth. Their off-the-shelf project cost them approximately $150, and the results have garnered them attention from CNN, Fox, ABC and more. Here’s how they made it:
Equipment Used in the Launch Capsule
|Sounding Balloon 350g from Kaymont||350g||~$20 +$20 (helium)|
|Motorola i290 Prepaid Cellphone||~90g,||~$50**|
|Styrofoam Beer Cooler||~15g||~$0|
|Canon A470 with 8GB SD card||~165g,||~$40***|
|Insulation material- newspaper||~5g||~$0|
|Duracell USB phone charger powered by AA batteries||~20g 1oz||~$10|
|Instant Hand warmer||~5g||~$2****|
|4 Ultimate Lithium AA batteries||~15g * 4 = 60 g||~$5|
|Radar Reflector (aluminum foil)||~0g||~$0|
|Total||~800g, /w misc.||~$150|
One of the amazing parts of this project is that there were only two small modifications needed on the materials: The camera used was selected for its ability to use a timed shutter script through the CHDK firmware update (I use this same setup for most of my timelapse films), and the styrofoam cooler allowed for lightweight thermal insulation which can be easily cut to allow the lens of the camera to stick through.