Today’s Tech Image: Camera captures San Francisco from 90,000 feet in air

For over a year, an aerospace adventure start-up called Night Crew Labs has been on a mission to capture rare views of the Earth and promote STEM outreach.

Its most recent project included building a rig that can handle low-light conditions as well as multiple camera angles, to improve our launch and recovery skills for a future mission to capture the Northern Lights from a high-altitude balloon.

To test its new equipment, the Night Crew Labs team put the equipment to work over the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company is based.

The payload was was comprised of two boxes that contained three cameras: a Sony A7S mirrorless camera pointed toward the horizon, a GoPro Hero 4 Black donated by GoPro, and a Samsung Galaxy S5 which took pictures at 10 second intervals.

The team mounted all of the cameras and accompanying electronics in a custom 3D-printed chassis (created by Straysys).

The team wanted to launch the balloon close to the city’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge and after consulting with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), decided to launch from an open field in the Presidio of San Francisco on December 12th, 2015. Since the balloon was carrying a heavy payload, almost three 110 cu. ft. tanks of Helium were needed to provide the right amount of buoyancy.

After a smooth launch, the balloon reached a height of 91,470 feet, popped, and landed in n area close by.

The team was able to capture breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco downtown, Bay Bridge, Monterey Bay and a giant rainbow across the bay area. It also captured high-frame rate footage of the balloon bursting and the parachute deploying.

Learn more about Night Crew Labs and its missions or watch the video below to see how the crew put this project together.

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