In June 2013, after months of planning, five friends launched a GoPro to the edge of space. They attached the camera to a weather balloon, along with a phone that logged the contraption’s location and was programmed to send back a message once it returned to cell phone range.
They sent the phone off from a spot about 20 miles from the Grand Canyon. It went up, up, up…and then disappeared. They never heard back from the phone about its location and figured they’d miscalculated at some point.
But two years later, the phone and the camera reappeared. This is what the camera had seen:
It turned out that the team had calculated its trajectory more or less accurately. The problem was that the area where it landed, which had looked, on the cell coverage map, like it would have been fine, did not in fact have good coverage. So the phone never knew it was back on Earth.
But recently a hiker—who happened to work for AT&T—came across it. She took it to an AT&T store, where they traced the phone to its owner using the SIM card. And, two years after the launch, the five friends finally got to see the results of their handiwork.
Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to email@example.com.