19-Year-Old Captures Stunning Images of Earth from Space Using Homemade Spacecraft

Melissa Knowles
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For most of us, the coolest pictures we've ever taken were shot somewhere here on Earth. Few of us will ever have the opportunity to venture into space and snap pictures. But British teen Adam Cudworth has gotten a head start on changing that. Cudworth decided to make his own spacecraft, one just big enough to house his camera, a GPS tracking device, a radio transmitter and a microprocessor in an insulated weather-protected box. His homemade spacecraft, attached to a large helium balloon, launched more than 20 miles into the sky and captured some incredible images and video for 2.5 hours.

Cudworth's pictures and video footage capture the curvature of Earth (he tweeted some of the images). The teen did it all on a budget of about $320, using only the knowledge he had acquired from his physics A-levels courses. Cudworth bought his camera, a Canon A570, for just under $50 on eBay over a year and a half ago. The project took him about 40 hours to complete in his spare time after school. His pictures are comparable to the images that NASA's team produces after having spent hundreds of millions of dollars on technologically advanced satellites.

Cudworth seems modest about the feat, calling the project just a hobby and saying, "I just wanted to set myself a challenge -- but I'm amazed at the results." He does admit that he was "stunned" at the results of his experiment, though, because he did not know what to expect from the images.

For those who may find it hard to believe that a 19-year-old could achieve such an accomplishment, Cudworth said, "I have no background in astrophysics or anything like that -- I'm just an engineering student." Even still, Cudworth has set the bar pretty high and could maybe show NASA a thing or two.