January 27, 2012

Lego-Naut Reaches For The Stars

Two weeks ago, teenagers Matthew Ho and Asad Muhammad, attached a Lego figurine replete with maple leaf flag to a helium balloon, which they sent 80,000 feet into the air. The journey was filmed using four cameras and showed the Lego astronaut in the reaches of space. The entire trip cost around $400 in total.

A GPS receiver was attached to a styrofoam box carrying the cameras, balloon and Lego-naut. The students launched the professionally made weather balloon and watched as it disappeared some 15 miles into the upper atmosphere from where the Earth´s curvature can be seen.

Matthew and Asad followed the GPS signals and recovered the package, attached to a hand-stitched parachute, from a field 75 miles from the launch site, reports Shiv Malik for The Guardian.

The two high school students met in middle school after Muhammad´s family had just emigrated from Pakistan. Muhammad, spoke no English, but was soon befriended by Ho and they began working on the project at Ho´s house last September.

“People would walk into the house and see us building this fantastical thing with a parachute from scratch, and they would be like, ℠What are you doing?´” says Ho. “We´d be like, ℠We´re sending cameras to space.´ They´d be like, ℠Oh, okayyyyy “¦´” he said.

“It shows a tremendous degree of resourcefulness. For two 17-year-olds to accomplish this on their own is pretty impressive,” praised Astrophysics professor Dr. Michael Reid, from the University of Toronto.

Lego brand relations director, Michael McNally sent a note of congratulations which said in part, “We are always amazed by the creative ways in which Lego fans use our products, and humbled by how many unsuspecting places we appear, like attached to a helium balloon in “¦ space.”


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