In 2013, a team of students attached a GoPro camera to a weather balloon and let it soar 18 miles above the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The flight, lasting over an hour, was expected. The two-year wait to retrieve the footage? A complete bummer.
During the camera rig's descent, the students say the attached Galaxy Note II cellphone failed to check in with its GPS location. "The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it," one of the team leaders posted to Reddit. "We didn't know this was the problem at the time — we thought our trajectory model was far off and it landed in a signal dead zone (turns out the model was actually quite accurate)."
By chance earlier earlier this year, an AT&T employee on a hike in a remote portion of Arizona came across the camera system. "She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend's SIM card. We got the footage and data a few weeks later!" he added.
After reaching an altitude of 98,000 feet, the camera system descended for 30 minutes and landed some 50 miles away from the original launch site. Check out the beautiful recovered footage below.