September 2, 2012
Kickstarter Project To Show 360 Degree View Of Earth
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Sitting in a plane doesn't quite give you the full perspective of what this planet looks like while traveling from above, but one Kickstarter project may just give you the view that you desire.
The project, Earth 360, is aiming to take a panoramic, 360 degree view of what our home planet looks like when taking off from the ground, and heading towards space.
The Earth 360 Kickstarter is a documentary following a Technology & Engineering Education teacher named Geoff Gergen, who will design, build, test, launch and recover a capsule that creates the first 360 degree image of the Earth from space.
The team will be launching a weather balloon from Earth, and sending it to space, along with cameras to image the journey from below to above.
The weather balloon method is "reliable" and provides a stable platform for the cameras to be based on, according to the Kickstarter page.
The capsule inside the hollowed out piece of styrofoam contains five cameras with wide angle lenses, which are mounted sideways, and pointed slightly toward the Earth.
These cameras will be set to snap images at the same time, once every few seconds, of the Earth from a perspective of thousands of feet above the surface.
About an hour into flight, the balloon will reach 80,000 to 100,000 feet, at which time it will stretch to over 30 feet wide and explode, dropping the cameras back towards the surface of the Earth to be recovered.
Once the crew recovers the cameras back on the ground, they said they will begin to turn the files into "amazing 360 degree images."
"Geoff and I have always been fascinated by space, and when we heard of people who were sending cameras up to 100,000 ft with weather balloons we knew that we had to do that for ourselves," Rhett Youngberg told redOrbit.com. "The 360 panorama idea came from looking at Google Street View. We saw how amazed people were with this technology and thought, 'How cool would it be to do this from space?'"
He said Geoff has experience in launching rockets, but not a balloon, and never up to 100,000 feet.
"But we don't view our lack of experience as a bad thing," Youngberg told redOrbit. "If anything it will add another element to the documentary, It would be kind of boring to watch if we knew what we were doing."
He said the audience will have the opportunity to watch them learn what they are doing, and hopefully they will be able to demonstrate how you do not need a certificate from MIT in order to send a balloon to space.
"Anyone with a few cameras, and a little bit of time and patience can accomplish something incredible," Rhett told redOrbit.com.
He said they hope to inspire people to create their own 360 degree near space panoramas, and that people would fall in love with science, space and the earth all over again.
"And when people create these panoramas, they can upload them to our website and show them off to the rest of the world. By doing this we eventually want to have a database full of these images," he told redOrbit. "Also, if enough interest is shown, we would like to do a sequel to the documentary. This time though, we would try to capture the Aurora Borealis in all of its 360 degree glory."
To contribute to the Earth 360 Kickstarter please go to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2113709224/earth-360. The team hopes to achieve their goal of $7,500 within the next 20 days.