Sheffield’s journey into space

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STUNNING images of the Earth from the edge of space have been captured by youngsters in Sheffield.

Pupils from Sheffield High School helped send a helium-filled balloon with two video cameras and a tracking device 37 kilometres into the atmosphere to film the planet.

Alex Baker and Chris Rose, both PhD students from the University of Sheffield’s department of mechanical engineering, completed the experiment last year and shared their ingenious idea with the younger pupils.

The flight was a success despite soggy weather conditions. Alex, who together with Chris hopes to inspire engineers of the future with balloon launches at local schools, said: “The balloon’s flight time was two hours and 25 minutes and from our estimates we believe it reached altitudes of just over 30km.

“The equipment landed safely in a field near York where we, along with pupils and their teachers, picked it up. The footage clearly shows the curvature of the earth, the thin blue line of the atmosphere and the blackness of space.

“The students involved seemed thrilled to be part of the project and were equally excited to see the brilliant images.”

The device, built by Alex and Chris in their spare time, consists of a foam box, a parachute and the balloon and cost just £500.

The electronic equipment had to be well-insulated due to the extremely cold temperatures at such high altitudes.

A GPS tracking system sent a text displaying its location when called.

Chris Rose added: “We were both really happy to run this project with the school, and thrilled that it was a success.

“The footage looks stunning and everyone involved was really enthusiastic and excited to have been part of the experience.”

Anyone interested in having their own balloon launch with Alex and Chris should contact sentintospace@gmail.com.