An impressive video is making the rounds showing the Earth from 19 miles up in the stratosphere - high enough to show the curvature of the earth and the blackness of space - that was shot from an iPhone 4. A father and son from Brooklyn, New York lofted an iPhone to 100,000 feet aboard a weather balloon to take a video of the Earth from space. Amazingly, the phone survived plummeting back to Earth at 150 miles per hour after the balloons burst, landing safely not far from the launch point.
Luke Geissbühler spent eight months researching and testing a way to video the Earth's curvature. He ended up taking an iPhone with external HD camera and wrapping it with hand-warmers to protect it from temperatures of 60 below zero Fahrenheit above the tropopause. They enclosed it in styrofoam packing materials, which they attached to a helium weather balloon. The two took their "homemade spacecraft" away from coastal Brooklyn, launching it from Newburgh in upstate New York to avoid interfering with air traffic and the chance of a splashdown. After 72 minutes, the iPhone had climbed over 100,000 feet (about 19 miles) into the stratosphere. At that height, the atmospheric pressure is just 1 kilopascal, or .001% 1% (thanks fr0zenra1n for the cluestick) of what it is at sea level. The helium gas inside the balloon expanded so much that the balloons burst open, and a parachute opened to protect the falling iPhone. The two used a custom app that transmitted GPS information to find the iPhone stuck in a tree, undamaged, just 30 miles away from where the balloon had lifted off "due to a rapid ascent and two differing wind patterns". The batteries died due to the extreme cold and the video cuts out just two minutes prior to landing.
The Geissbuhlers are working on a how-to guide so that other parents and kids can try this for themselves. A link to the FAA regulations for weather balloons is also included on their site, to prevent would-be iPhonauts from creating hazards for aircraft.
Source: iPhone Download Blog