While it is still expensive and difficult to get humans to even low-Earth orbit, we have figured out how to get a camera and a few more things to the edge of space, including a rainbow flag. It doesn’t take much to do it, just a weather balloon. In fact, in roughly three hours, you can get to the stratosphere – but you never know when disaster will strike.
Students at S. Anselm's Preparatory School in Derbyshire, England, discovered this on Monday. They sent a Bakewell pudding, a traditional English pastry dessert, to the edge of space on a high-altitude balloon. The students noted its path with tracking devices, but they lost the signal when the balloon was about 16 kilometers (10 miles) high and had moved about 90 kilometers (56 miles) east.
The tech on board the balloon registered a temperature of -36°C (-33°F) just before it got lost. The pastry is believed to have risen to 33 kilometers (20 miles). The students were going to analyze if the dessert was still suitable for human consumption once it re-entered and if it would be frozen when it landed. It is not impossible for the balloon to be found, although it’s unlikely this part of the experiment can still be performed.
"Last year, we launched a high-altitude balloon in preparation for this experiment and it was found by a couple on a beach near Skegness, who used the contact details on the balloon to let us know where it ended up," Liz Scott, director of studies, told BBC News. "We're hoping the same thing will happen again and we'll find out where the pudding ends up."
The Space Bakewell pudding mission was organized by Year Four students, equivalent to third grade in the US educational system. They used this project to raise money for charity, reaching a total of roughly $2,345, the school confirms in a press release. They are donating that sum to the Guide Dogs For The Blind charity.
Bakewell puddings are made of flaky pastry and sieved jam, with a filling made from ground almonds and eggs.
[H/T: BBC News]