Sometimes, the stars align and fortune has it that the lost GoPro project was found with spectacular footage of Earth in spite of the fact that its initiators had nearly removed all hope from their minds that it would ever be recovered.
However, it seems luck was on their side and their miscalculations were not the dooming mistake they once thought.
In June, 2013, five students from Stanford University gathered up their resources and developed a project that would capture images of the Grand Canyon from stunning altitudes. They created an experiment that was simple at its core, with two GoPro high-end cameras, a GPS enabled smartphone, a weather balloon to carry it all up, and a parachute to alleviate its inevitable crash.
They launched the pieces into the air and watched it drift up into the sky a few miles from Tuba City in Arizona, while carefully tracking and awaiting its results. Most global positioning systems (GPS) today can monitor a phone to altitudes up to 100,000 feet into the air, which was approximately the height their project reached before the balloon snapped against the pressure.
After 1 hour and 38 minutes of flight, their simple, yet interesting, project plummeted to the ground and unfortunately lost signal on its way down. According to one of the participants, Bryan Chan, the coverage map they were relying on was not quite the most accurate, so when they lost signal, they lost track of their project altogether.
Their plans were only halfway completed. They had the footage, but it was lost somewhere unknown to them and likely to never be retrieved. However, the small box containing the beautiful images were discovered two years later, when all hope was lost.
According to Chan, they were already making bets on when or if it would ever be found again before they were contacted by AT&T employee Pearl Tsosie. The woman accidentally found the box while hiking through the desert 50 miles from its launch site, who then returned it to the store and used the SIM card within the smartphone to contact its owner.
It was an incredibly happy accident for students that someone, somehow, managed to stumble across it in the barren and heated desert, a person who also actually had experience in IT and communications enough to easily and quickly track them down.
After two years, its discovery was hardly expected anymore, but the students have made a compilation now available on YouTube of the stunning images captured by the cameras while flying high above the skies.
Their project reached 98,664 feet before the helium-filled weather balloon snapped, all captured beautifully on the camera along with the striking images it managed to snap before its 30 minutes long plummet back to the ground.
Image source: dailymail.co.uk