SPHERICAL CAMERA IN THE STRATOSPHERE: On March 26th, as part of our normal cosmic ray monitoring program, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a Ricoh Theta S spherical camera to the stratosphere. The finicky instrument worked throughout the entire flight, resulting in this view from an altitude of 116,140 feet:
Click on the image, then spin and zoom. Be sure to notice the cosmic ray payload below the camera and the 50 ft-wide balloon overhead. The black object apparently bisecting the balloon is a thermal pack attached to the camera itself; this pack helped the camera stay warm despite surrounding air temperatures as low as -63 C. A few seconds after this picture was taken, the balloon exploded and the payload parachuted back to Earth, landing in a Joshua Tree forest on the verge of Death Valley National Park.