For around $700 worth of materials, an English IT manager named Robert Harrison was able to capture photos and video from space that would've cost NASA millions to achieve. He mounted a cheap Canon camera on a weather balloon, which rose 21.7 miles into the atmosphere as the camera took pictures and video at five minute intervals. The camera was wrapped in insulation to trap the heat it generated and protect it from temps as low as -76F. The balloon finally expanded to ten times its size (20 meters diameter) and popped, at which point a small parachute brought the camera gently back to earth. It was equipped with a GPS that allowed Harrison to find the camera, which landed just 50 miles from where he'd launched it. Needless to say, the pictures and video are stunning, and his achievement has made headlines all over the world. He's got the pictures and video he took on his flickr page, but here are some highlights.
And the videos!
You can see ice crystals on the lens:
And the sound cuts away as the air thins ...
And the balloon, I have to assume, has popped here.