Video: The Grand Canyon as seen from the stratosphere

There are plenty of GoPro videos from bottom of the Grand. Not too many have shown up from space.

Grand Canyon viewed from a weather balloon launched into the stratosphere. Photo: Bryan Chan
Grand Canyon viewed from a weather balloon launched into the stratosphere. Photo: Bryan Chan

Plenty of GoPro videos have been taken by paddlers from the bottom of the Grand Canyon; not too many have shown up from the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere. And had it not been for a bit of serendipity, this video may have never found its way online.

As GrindTV reports, in June of 2013 a group of students used a 3D printed case to mount a GoPro and smartphone to a weather balloon and launch it over the Grand Canyon. The setup worked, and the GoPro managed to capture some stunning footage before the balloon popped and crash landed in the desert. It would remain there — lost — for over two years.

The remarkable story was explained by Bryan Chan on Reddit and in his YouTube video:

"We used GPS on a smartphone to continuously log the phone's location on its memory card," Chan explained on Reddit. "The standard GPS receiver these days can track your phone well above 100,000 feet…We used an app to have the phone text us its GPS location once it got a signal as it was returning to Earth.

"We planned our June 2013 launch at a specific time and place [so] that the phone was projected to land in an area with cell coverage. The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got [a] signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it."

So, me and some friends launched a weather balloon in Arizona. Here&#039;s an awesome picture of Earth that the side GoPro captured at around 98,000 ft. The Grand Canyon is near the top left part of the frame. Launch video here: <a class="youtube-link" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EABQ5psUz70">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EABQ5psUz70</a>

Thanks to an unlikely stroke of luck, a woman who worked for AT&T was out hiking two years later when she stumbled across the wreckage. She removed the SIM card from the phone and was able to track down the original owners. How’s that for a lost and found tale?

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