(STANFORD, Calif.) — A GoPro launched into space by Stanford University students was lost for two years years — that is until an Arizona hiker found it recently intact with stunning footage of the Grand Canyon from space.
Stanford alumni Bryan Chan told ABC News that the GoPro and a phone with a GPS was launched near the Grand Canyon on June 8, 2013 on a high-altitude weather balloon to gather data for his aerospace engineering dissertation. His fellow classmates and friends — Ved Chirayath, Ashish Goel, Tyler Reid and Paul Tarantino — were part of the team working on the project.
The GoPro caught incredible aerial footage of the Grand Canyon and of Earth a few miles out in the stratosphere, but the team never got to see the footage because the GoPro went lost.
“We were supposed to recover the GoPro and the phone two hours after the launch, but it ended up being two years,” Chan said. “The GoPro and phone was projected to land in an area with cell coverage, but the problem was that the cell service coverage maps we relied on weren’t accurate, so the phone didn’t have signal as it came back to Earth. We couldn’t get the text it was supposed to send with the coordinates of where it landed.”
But this past March, an Arizona hiker named Pearl Tsosie found the GoPro and phone “in the barren dessert” near the Grand Canyon, Chan said. Tsosie was also an employee for AT&T, and she used that to her advantage to identify the phone’s owner using the sim card.
“She was able to call my friend Ved, and we got the footage and data a few weeks later,” Chan said. “We couldn’t believe it.”
Chan edited the incredible aerial footage and uploaded the video last Thursday to YouTube, where it had over three million views as of Tuesday evening.
“We’re blown away by how many people love the video,” Chan said. “I’ve got message from people saying they’ve put it on their desktop, and it’s just really great to have such an overwhelming positive response.
Chan said he and the team are still in the Bay area in California, and they may get together to create another epic GoPro video.
“We’re thinking about it for sure, and though there’s no strict timeline, we’re beginning to put plans into motion,” he said. “This video definitely won’t be out last.”
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