Launching satellites is an expensive business – at least for now. But satellites are necessary in astronomy for one major reason – it gets telescopes above the atmosphere. The Earth’s atmosphere and its associated weather patterns are a massive hindrance to collecting good images. If a stray cloud passes in front of the observational target once over the course of a few days, it could ruin the entire image. Which is why some of the most striking astronomical pictures come from space-based observatories like Hubble. But now, a team of researchers from Durham, Toronto, and Princeton Universities has come up with a new way to get above that atmosphere that doesn’t involve a launch into orbit. They want to use a balloon.Continue reading “A new Balloon-Based Observatory Could Produce Images as Fine as Hubble”
Launch of a Lego Space Shuttle
While it didn’t quite make it to space, this Lego space shuttle got quite a ride on a weather balloon, reaching 35,000 meters (35 km, 21 miles) above Earth’s surface. “My Lego tribute to the end of the space shuttle era,” wrote Vinciverse on You Tube, “proving that although retired, this machine can still fly, albeit in toy form.”
The launch took place from central Germany using a 1,600 g helium balloon. The equipment included a GoPro Hero video camera, a Spot GPS and of course Lego Space Shuttle model 3367. The flight was apparently cleared with German air traffic control.