Students in the Tritont Rocket Club assembled the large balloon and filled it with helium for the 100,000-foot journey into the atmosphere.
“From there you can see the curvature of the earth very clearly," said UCSD senior Howard Wang. "You can see well into Arizona, clouds, land forms, mountains, deserts...the pictures really are spectacular."
Since last year the group has been assembling a 20-foot rocket in hopes of becoming the first students in the country to launch one into space.
“As we launch our system, we want to know the correct temperature that we are functioning at so we want to make sure we get all the data and know the conditions we are getting into,” said club member Adigya Zadgaonkar.
To collect the data, the team attached an avionics package to the balloon and tied it onto a parachute for a soft lading.
“We basically went to Target and bought a lunchbox and put all of our electronics that we wanted to test in it and let the balloon take it up,” Wang said.
The journey lasted 14 hours after it launched from Ranchor Bernardo and landed somewhere in the desert 65 miles southeast of San Diego.
“We went through everything from street to off roads to the desert," said student Narek Geghamyan. "We had a car get stuck in the sand...it was nerve-wrecking but a lot of fun. A lot of bonding. Not just guys, there are girls in the rocket club as well, so very bonding.”
The team is funding the project with some of its own money and some from sponsorships.
The rocket is slated to launch in March of 2015.