Recently, at Ione, CA, Google sent seven payloads up, up, and away into near space, each equipped with a Nexus S. Sending the balloons up also gave us an opportunity to capture some stunning imagery and videos of Earth. Take a look at unaltered footage of an Android at over 100,000 ft above the Earth's surface:
These phones were running a variety of apps: Google Maps for Mobile 5.0 (with offline map data) to see what was directly below the balloon, Google Sky Map to see if we could identify the real stars in the backdrop, Latitude to report location when the phones had a data connection, and our own custom sensor logging app that sampled all the available sensors on the device. We even manned our payloads with some special astronauts: small Android robots, and boy did they fly. Check out an in-depth look at how we prepared and launched the payloads:
"The payloads collected a lot of data, and many reached high altitudes, with the highest topping out at 107,375 ft., over 20 miles high, or over three times the height of an average commercial jet. Also clocked one of the payloads at 139 mph at its fastest.
In tracking the sensors on each of the phones, we observed that the GPS in Nexus S could function up to altitudes of about 60,000 ft. and would actually start working again on the balloon's descent. We also saw that Nexus S could withstand some pretty harsh temperatures (as low as -50?C). Some interesting data we collected:
Maximum Speed: 139 mph
Maximum Altitude: 107,375 ft (over 20 miles, over 30 km)
Maximum Ascent Rate: 5.44 m/s
Average Flight Duration: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Average Descent Time: 34 minutes
By analyzing all the collected data, we were able to find some interesting trends. For instance, we determined the speed and altitude of the jet stream: about 130mph at 35,000 ft."