Teesdale student sends camera into space

Composite space image
Image caption A series of camera shots were stitched together to make this composite panorama showing the curvature of the Earth

A student from Barnard Castle has captured stunning pictures of the Earth from outer space, on a budget of £350.

Alex Baker, a Phd student in mechanical engineering at Sheffield University, and his colleague Chris Rose used a video camera they had bought for £45 for the project.

Hooked up to a helium balloon, it reached an estimated altitude of 37km.

The students did the project in their own time to show how cheap and accessible space exploration can be.

Though the equipment used was simple, the project still required a great deal of preparation.

The students tested several methods of insulation to protect the camera from temperatures as low as -60C and calculated where and when to launch the balloon to give the camera the best chance of returning to dry land.

The pair then spent days stitching together digital images from the camera to create a panoramic shot of the curvature of the Earth.

Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce, head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Sheffield University, has a copy of the picture on the wall of his office.

"It's all done with low budget stuff, initiative, persistence, ingenuity and a sense of fun and we're all very proud of them." He said.

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