The closest most of us 'round here will ever get to outer space is blogging about the Lunar X Prize, so our inner astronauts get rather giddy any time an amateur makes it to the cusp of the gravity well. The above photos were taken by the Meteotek team, a teacher and his four students from the IES La Bisbal school in Catalonia, Spain. The group designed and launched a balloon kitted out with a Nikon Coolpix and custom built electronics, intending to get some shots at 30,000 feet. Well exceeding their expectations, the $80 digicam (held aloft by a $60 latex balloon) reached over 100,000 feet, at which point it lost inflation and fell to the earth. As the balloon rose, the team was able to map its progress using Google Earth via the craft's on-board radio receiver. After it fell back to earth, the group "travelled 10km to find the sensors and photographic card," said one of the students, "which was still emitting its signal, even though it had been exposed to the most extreme conditions."

[Via Switched]