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First Google Street View Tour to Near Space from Adler Planetarium with 360° GoPro Fusion Camera

by Panoskin Team, on Nov 30, 2018 9:00:00 AM

On November 14th, 2018, the Panoskin team launched a 360° GoPro Fusion camera into the stratosphere, creating the world’s first Google Street View tour to space. Panoskin worked with several organizations to make this happen, including the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. After all, it only seemed fitting that the first Google Street View tour to space launch from America’s first planetarium!

Take a look at the Custom 360° Tour we created from the footage.

Our goal for the space launch was to show the world that Google Street View is not limited to the streets. Using our software Panoskin, anyone can publish interior or exterior spaces directly to Google Street View, not withstanding the stratosphere.

To make publishing to Street View even more accessible, though, we’re working with GoPro and Google on a desktop application that will streamline the virtual tour publishing process even more. You won’t need a special Google Street View car or Trekker to publish to Street View. Very soon, any GoPro Fusion user in the world will be able to publish directly to Google Street View and share their adventures on Google Maps! Want to add that mountain you scaled or trail you trekked to Google Street View? GoPro Fusion users will be able to do that soon!

How It All Came Together

Launching the GoPro Fusion and retrieving the footage required a lot of engineering and planning.

To design a feasible payload, it needed to meet the following requirements:

  • FAA regulations for unmanned space crafts
  • Withstand the extreme cold of the stratosphere (as low as -140°F)
  • Be trackable for recovery
  • Shoot video that could mask out the payload for the best imagery
Panoskin Weather Balloon Payload with GoPro Fusion 360 Camera

In order to achieve this, the payload was constructed out of sheets of foam board to keep it light, insulated, and buoyant. Using these sheets also allowed for better control of the payload thickness, which determined if the payload could be masked out in the footage.

We also used an external battery pack to power the GoPro for an extended period of time, as well as a layer of USB heated cloth to keep the battery and components warm.

The payload was also equipped with a parachute to ensure that it returned to earth at a safe speed that would not harm people, property, or equipment.

To ensure that we could find and recover the payload, it was equipped with five types of trackers. This included:

  • A custom APRS tracker (for realtime GPS tracking via HAM radio)
  • A STRATA tracker (secondary GPS radio tracker)
  • A Satellite GPS tracker (tracked via satellite in 5 min intervals)
  • A directional tracker (a beacon way finder used to locate the payload once its on the ground)
  • Our phone number

Working with Adler Planetarium and Hawken Orbital

Adler Planetarium

We were thrilled when the Adler Planetarium in Chicago agreed to let us launch from their campus. In addition, we received assistance from Hawken Orbital to make this launch a success.

We had an integration test on-site and discussed everything from the payload to flight trajectories and weather patterns. 

Pictured From Left: Anthony Lin Product Manager Panoskin, Dave BohlmannPrincipal Engineer Hawken Orbital, Tom Chomiak CTO Panoskin, Ken Walczak Senior Manager Far Horizons Adler Planetarium

Pictured From Left: Anthony Lin Product Manager Panoskin, Dave BohlmannPrincipal Engineer Hawken Orbital, Tom Chomiak CTO Panoskin, Ken Walczak Senior Manager Far Horizons Adler Planetarium

In order to launch as safely as possible, we had a checklist of items to cover:

  • Design a safe, yet functional payload
  • Obtain proper approvals from the FAA
  • Create flight trajectories
  • File a Notice to Airman (NOTAM)
  • Monitor weather conditions for clear skies
  • Coordinate with local air traffic control at both Midway and O’hare airports to time everything just right

Our biggest challenge? Weather balloons are typically launched from less populated areas, like desserts and barren farmland. Of the combined 150+ missions that Adler Planetarium and Hawken Oribital flew, none were done from a major metropolitan area like Chicago. And to our knowledge, we were the first. If you are looking to perform a similar project, we do not suggest launching from a major city as it requires months of coordination, meticulous planning, red tape, and lots of proper documentation.

The Day of the Launch

Panoskin Balloon Launch group picture

The flight lasted more than an hour-and-a-half and ascended to around 86,000 feet before landing in a cornfield in Berrien Center, MI. The image below shows the trajectory of the weather balloon in green and our retrieval route in pink.

Panoskin Balloon Flight Path

We were able to create the first Google Street View tour to space and a custom virtual tour from the launch. Aside from capture amazing footage, we attracted media outlets from ABC, CBS, and WGN to cover our event.

We got to meet meteorologist Tom Skilling and Demetrius Ivory.

Pictured From Left: Wojciech Kalembasa CEO Panoskin, Demetrius Ivory Meteorologist WGN-TV, Tom Skilling Meteorologist WGN-TV, Tom Chomiak CTO Panoskin

Pictured From Left: Wojciech Kalembasa CEO Panoskin, Demetrius Ivory Meteorologist WGN-TV, Tom Skilling Meteorologist WGN-TV, Tom ChomiakCTO Panoskin

And we appeared on Chicago’s very own WGN-TV to discuss our space launch, Panoskin, and the ability of publishing to Google Street View using the GoPro Fusion.

With the help from all those involved, our space launch was a huge success!

For more information or to start publishing to Google Street View using Panoskin, visit https://www.panoskin.com

Official press release can be found here

Topics:News

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