LENSE stands for Low Expense Near Space Experiment. LENSE is my first attempt at high altitude ballooning, a growing hobby across the globe of attaching cameras, radios, and sensors to weather balloons to experience the edge of space and curvature of the earth at 100,000 feet. I started this project in early 2011 after stumbling on the field of kite aerial photography and then balloon and drone photography on the internet. At first it just seemed like a really cool project out of my reach, but further research revealed it was feasible for just a few hundred dollars and there are lots of resources out there for information. I got started right away.
With LENSE I went through the design process over and over again, scrapping many of my initial goals and designs when time started to run out and I learned more about engineering, as this was my first major project. You can read my very lengthy blog posts about my development of this project here for more technical details and design commentary.
In the end, my payload of cameras and sensors traveled to 88,671 feet above rural Kansas farmland and took over a thousand photos across the two hour journey to near space. Temperature, pressure, GPS location, and humidity were all recorded each second along the way. The payload landed 200 miles away from the launch location and was recovered with ease on the side of the road, a complete and total success that captured the black of space and curvature of the earth.
LENSE in its final form consisted of the following components:
After a successful launch and returning home, I applied to be a speaker at TEDxRedmond 2011 to talk about my project.
Photos from the payload, shot from above Kansas in the height of the summer sun.