Forget sending cameras up to the edges of space on a weather balloon: rockets are much, much cooler (and faster). A man named Derek Deville created a homemade rocket in an effort to win The Carmack Prize, which offers $10K to anyone who can launch a rocket to above 100K feet, take a GPS reading, and then recover the vehicle. Although he failed to take a GPS reading, Deville’s rocket managed to reach 121,000ft (~23 miles) in 84 seconds.
What’s awesome is that he also attached two HD cameras to the rocket to document what the journey looks like. The side view captured by a FlipHD starts at 2:49, while footage from a GoPro pointed straight down starts at 5:15.
While we’re on the subject of photos of Earth, did you know that the first photo showing the entire planet was captured by an unmanned NASA orbiter from the moon back in 1966? To accomplish this, they had to come up with a camera that could expose, process, scan, and transmit film photographs — something “akin to a flying television station and photographic mini-lab”. Read more…
As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, NASA has published a satellite photograph of Earth to its Flickr stream in which the storm is clearly visible. The storm has a diameter of 510 miles — roughly 1/3 the length of the East Coast — so it could probably be seen very clearly from someone standing on the moon. President Obama is warning Americans that the hurricane could be of “historic proportions”.
Photographer Murray Fredericks took sixteen solo trips over eight years to the center of Lake Eyre in Australia, the largest lake in the country and one that forms salt flats every year when the water evaporates. These salt flats provide a perfectly flat, featureless landscape that extends to infinity in every direction, and allow for beautiful abstract photographs. Read more…
One amazing perk that comes with being a NASA astronaut is that you can watch meteor showers up close and from above. Astronaut Ron Garan captured this awesome photograph from the International Space Station of a Perseid meteor burning up in our atmosphere.
By the way, did you notice the hot pixels littering the frame? That’s probably why NASA sometimes only uses DSLRs once before too many pixels are destroyed by space radiation.
Ever wonder what the bulky white coverings NASA uses on its DSLRs is for? Popular Photography sent the agency some questions regarding its use of the Nikon D2Xs, and found out some interesting details about astronaut photo gear:
The equipment under the thermal blanket is a Nikon SB-800 flash in a custom housing that is used during a spacewalk (EVA). The flash needed a special housing because it will not work properly in the vacuum of space. The housing holds air pressure so that the flash will function properly. There is also a bracket on the bottom (covered with a white thermal blanket) that the camera and flash mount to.
[...] The D2Xs used for flight has the same firmware modifications and a lubricant modification. Other than that it is the same as buying it from the store.
They also state that because of the damage inflicted on the camera sensors by the radiation in space, sometimes the cameras are only used on one mission before too many pixels are destroyed for them to be used again.
Don’t want people using photos of your private island without permission? Watermark it! Billionaire Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan had his name carved into the sand of his island in the Persian Gulf. The giant “HAMAD” is two miles long and half a mile tall, is partially filled with water from the Persian Gulf, and can be clearly seen in photographs of the region capture by satellite. Gives new meaning to the term “watermark”, eh?
As Space Shuttle Atlantis left the International Space Station to head back to Earth for the final time, one of the astronauts on the ISS captured this beautiful image of the shuttle’s glowing re-entry. Any guesses for what shutter speed this was shot at?
NASA created this beautiful time-lapse video with photos taken from Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station. It’s a neat look at the size of the Earth, and includes a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis from space!
A 268-megapixel sensor might suffice for photographing the stars through a telescope, but apparently a sensor many times more powerful is needed for photographing alien planets from space. The European Space Agency has just finished building the largest camera ever to be used in space: a camera over three feet wide with a gigapixel sensor composed of 106 separate CCD sensors. Just to give you an idea of how powerful the camera is: it will be able to measure the width of a strand of hair from over 600 miles away, and the thumbnail of someone standing on the moon. Read more…