Monday, December 03, 2012

Adam Cudworth

A 19-year-old student has joined a select band of private individuals who have taken pictures from the edge of space.
Adam Cudworth, from Ombersley, Worcestershire, used a balloon to carry a second-hand camera more than 20 miles (32km) above the Earth.
The whole project cost less than £200.
The University of Nottingham student said: "It took me about a year 
just to research the rules and regulations and to build up my 
knowledge of what components work at extreme temperatures and altitudes."
Before he could launch a balloon he had to obtain permission from 
the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The CAA govern what you can and can't do and you have to apply 
for permission more than a month in advance.
They then issue a notice to pilots in the area

 to warn them that the 
balloon is going up, he said.
Richard Taylor, from the CAA, said it now got two or three requests a month for similar launches.
Improvements in camera technology allow people to do this kind of thing a lot more cheaply.
Launching a balloon with a camera in itThe balloon burst at a set altitude
He said the CAA was happy to grant permission in 
most cases.
Mr Cudworth is delighted with the quality of the pictures  
he got from a camera he bought for £30 on eBay.
It only uses about eight megapixels and the clarity of the 
photos is absolutely fantastic really.
The balloon was launched from near his house and was 
recovered after its flight from a field 40 miles (64km) 
away at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.
The 10-metre diameter balloon carried the camera to a height of 110,210ft (33,592 metres) before bursting.
It initially falls extremely fast because there is no atmosphere, then, 
as it re-enters thicker atmosphere, a parachute opens and it slows 
down considerably, Mr Cudworth said.

The camera, radio and GPS tracking equipment had to be able to 
work in temperatures as low as minus -63C, he said.
Keeping track of the camera presented its own problems.
Initially Mr Cudworth thought about using a mobile phone, but 
discovered that these lost signal at altitudes above 2km (1.2 miles).
The use of GPS systems at high altitudes is also restricted by 
international laws, he discovered.
A lot of GPS modules don't work above 18km because of limits because they don't want them used in intercontinental missiles.
Mr Cudworth is now planning to develop a more sophisticated way 
of getting his camera back to Earth.
The earth photographed from an altitude from a high altitude balloonThe project cost Mr Cudworth £200
I am working on an autonomous return glider 
- a small foam glider so that when the 
balloon bursts, instead of it just falling back 
to earth wherever, the glider will kick in and 
glide it back to a pre-determined location.
He is reading economics at university, with 
high altitude photography as "a hobby on the side".
Terry Moore, professor of satellite navigation at the University of 
Nottingham, said: I think it is quite incredible what Adam has 
accomplished on such a small budget, and on his own initiative.

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