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Project Aether films northern lights at 100,000 feet using a GoPro camera on a balloon (video)

Tim Stevens

Sadly we can't all be spacemen. Commercial travel beyond the atmosphere is getting closer but still priced way, way, way beyond the budgetary constraints of mere human beings. The closest many of us will get to outer space is photography and, thanks to ever-cheaper and ever-more-durable cameras, getting those pictures is easier than ever. We recently visited Project Aether on location in Fairbanks Alaska, a group working to study what happens in the upper atmosphere and, along the way, inspire students around the world. Using a helium-filled weather balloon and a payload made of carbon fiber tubing, the team lofted a set of GoPro HD Hero 2 cameras, one of which captured photos of the green aurora borealis and, off to the side, the lingering the glow from a long-set sun. That black arc below? That's the earth.

We'll have much, much more to come on Project Aether in an upcoming Distro feature, but for now, enjoy the video below -- and keep your head in the clouds.

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