Flight to Stratosphere • 360° Aerial Panorama
This panorama can be opened in several different resolutions. High resolution panorama with the best quality is about 7 Mb large and it is suitable for fast internet connections and modern computers. For slower internet and old weak computers we created the smaller low resolution panorama. Some small details have been sacrificed but the size of low resolution panorama is nomore than 2 Mb.
Open Aerial Panorama (high resolution)
Among thousands of comments on our website, there was one that caught our attention: "You have photographed the entire Earth. Now it is time to shoot in Space".
We thought "Why not?" and in the summer of 2012 we sent a probe with photographic equipment to the stratosphere, taking spherical panoramas from the near space. We have a small team and we're always busy running behind.
Recent record-breaking jump from the stratosphere by Felix Baumgartner reminded us about this flight, and we decided to cancel the planned publication of the panoramas from Europe. As a result, instead of a virtual tour of the Vatican, we're offering to your attention the report about the AirPano shooting the near space.
The stratosphere is situated between about 10 km (6 mi) and 50 km (30 mi) altitude above the Earth's atmosphere. The stratosphere has 2 layers: the lower one (11-25 km) and the upper one (25-50 km). It's worthy to mention that air temperature in the lower layer can reach -60 ° C, while the upper layer is being gradually warmed up to +0,8 ° C and it reaches zero at the altitude of about 45 kilometers.
At altitudes from 15-20 to 55-60 kilometers lies the ozone layer that protects the Earth from the sun's deadly radiation.
The top layer of the stratosphere is often called "near space".
Sending a camera into the stratosphere and getting it back is a technically challenging task, so we asked project Netwind.ru, headed by Denis Efremov, to help us to do it. They have extensive experience in this field and all the necessary permits from regulatory authorities.
Sending cameras into the near space is done by using balloons filled with helium. These balloons rise 35-37 kilometers above the ground, gradually increasing in size until they are as big as three-story house. At this altitude balloons suppose to burst and send cameras safely to the ground by parachute. To shoot the moment of the balloon's explosion, we set one of the cameras up vertically in video mode.
Balloons had to be launched before dawn in order to shoot the Earth in a beautiful morning light. The night was amazing: all the way to the launch site in the North-East Moscow region our road was lit by headlights, stars, and the moon. Soon the work was in full swing. Our colleagues from Netwind were right on time: they quickly unpacked their things and installed the lighting. We found out that all the necessary equipment could hardly fit into two cars!
A calm weather was promising a good probe launch. But a lot of things had to be checked before the launch. Cameras have to operate in extremely cold conditions: batteries can be damaged, and cover lenses can get misted over or get covered with ice crystals. Cameras have several search GPS-beacons attached to them so they could be found after landing on the ground. However, there is a possibility of failure. That's why assembly process requires a lot of attention.
By morning, all preparations were completed, and the balloon sailed slowly into the sky above the rolling fog. One of the pilots even filmed the launch of the balloon with a radio-controlled model airplane! All we had to do was wait and see what our balloon cameras would show on the screen.
Some time later we saw beautiful clouds floating past the balloon while it was lit by sun rays. Everything went according to the plan. Upon reaching the altitude of 35-37 kilometers the balloon bursted and cameras started to descend. GPS-beacons sent their coordinates several kilometers above the ground and went silent. The next transmission time was supposed to be from their landing position. But it never happened. This is why we had to cover five miles in diameter in order to find the camera. The search ended up going for 2 days straight: our whole team made several trips to the landing area and searched for camera unit in the dark forest, making our way through the faint trails without any results. It's hard enough to find a small camera in the forest with more or less precise coordinates, but without them it's almost impossible. Furthermore, simultaneous failure of two GPS-beacons looked suspicious, and we thought the camera was not in the forest, but in a lake located near to the search area. Was it a technical failure or a water landing: we couldn't find out the exact cause. A few thousand dollars worth of equipment was lost, and we had to do it all over again.
So a week later we had to repeat the whole process again. The weather was great and the moon and stars gave us new hopes for success. The sky was cloudy but, nonetheless, the luck was on our side. The clouds spared us and photo shoot was successful: on panorama you can see forests, fields, and Pleshcheyevo lake by Pereslavl-Zalesskiy. This time there were three GPS-beacons with cameras and they didn't fail us.
Cameras landed on the field in the outskirts of one local village attracting attention of cows. But our equipment was not edible, so we found it intact. We have a video of our trip to the cameras' landing site: you can see all the rough roads and small bridges we had to cross to get there. But it was worth it! We finally had a spheric panorama of the Earth from the altitude of 37 kilometers.
"UNGLAUBLICH, was ihr da macht, Jungs!! Meine Hochachtung! Grüsse aus der Schweiz"
Andreas Merz, Switzerland
"As a teacher... this is truly amazing stuff.... keep at it you guys. Wow!"
John Greig, Australia
"wonderfull thanks for your work, it´s spectacular."
ANDRES GONZALEZ, Mexico
"İncredible work...Congratulations and thanks a lot for sharing..."
Burak Ercümen, Turkey
"Ihr seid die Grössten,es gibt nichts schöneres als unsere Erde aus dieser Perspektive zu sehen. Danke,alles Gute und weiter so!!!!!!"
Ronald Wolf, Germany
Eugenio Mafaraci, Germany
"As I read the well deserved accolades and praise from around the world, it struck me, the AirPano team has created a common interest that transcends all our differences. All I can add is Thank You!"
Gordon Reilly, USA
"The views really take you there. Awestruck!"
Andy Crownm, USA
"All panoramas and 3D Virual Tours"
Lise Charland, Canada
Karel CÍS, Czech Republic
"This is Truly an Outstanding feat! Alot of hard work went in this project and it is Truly Appreciated. My compliments to the Team who accomplished this. Please keep up the Great Work!!!"
Dan Stalnaker, USA
"It's amazing work..the most beautiful images that i have ever seen..I can't stop looking at it thank you"
Maggie Ali, Egypt
Gabriel Leicht, Israel
"These panorama views are the most beautyful views that I have ever seen. Thanks and keep doing your job!!!"
Giovanni Saviano, Italy
Tomi B, Macedonia
""Very very very beautiful - I would ( PLEASE ) love to have a screen saver of this that would slowly rotate!Greatings from Switzerland"
Dimitri Kokas ,Deskati, Switzerland
"this is a great thank you incredible impressions excellent work amazing thank you"
marta gajdusek, USA
"Very inspiring - beautiful - I would love to have a screen saver of this that would slowly rotate !!"
Michael Pollitz, USA
"Wow... this is something! I had to swallow the tears as I watched this. This was exactly what I imagined it to be. Makes you think about more than just a cool experiment doesnt it..."
Kyle Hendricks, South Africa
"Awesome pictures. Keep it up!"
Peter Ling, Malaysia
"GRACIAS. ES MARAVILLOSO EL REGALO DEL CREADOR DEL UNIVERSO. USTEDES SE MERECEN NUESTRO AMOR."
Carlos Reyes, Costa Rica
"amazing! can't wait to show these panos to my students! i am not a science teacher. in fact, i teach language arts, but my students are from a small town of 5,000 people and may never venture very far. they need to see what is out there beyond their little world!"
shelllie mcallister, USA
panayiotis ss, Cyprus
"wonderfull, very impressing without word, i like it a lot. thank"
Mega Patten, Greece
Giota Giannouli, Greece
NASSIMA HACHOUF, Algeria
"These airborne panorama views are the greatest views that I have ever seen. Keep them coming."
Dennis Lasanen, USA
Marta Dub, Czech Republic
hossein shami, Iran
"MARAVILHOSO, MAGNIFICO, ESPECTACULAR.... continuem"
jose cunha, Portugal
"Nice (Some thing Different)""
anand kodagu, India
"Muito belo e bonito. É fantástico o que se vê a cerca de 35 Km. Bom trabalho .Muita coragem continuem."
José Ferreira Fonseca, Angola
"Inspirational!!! Incredible work... Things made with love! panographos.com"
Alex Gutierrez, Mexico
"Amazing work guys!"
jorge santos, Brazil
"It is really astonished me. It is very cool. Good job."
Daniel Frans, Indonesia
julian artigas, Spain
"I discovered this site one month ago. Since then it is a source of astonishment and respect for your wonderful work. Thank you."
Hans van Leeuwen, Netherlands
"THANK YOU SOO MUCH FOR ALL THE BEAUTIFUL VIEWS AND UNREACHABLE DESTINATIONS A SINGLE MAN,, I WONDER ,IF SOME ONE FEELS TO GO FOR A TRIP THEN IT IS MUST FOR HIM TO WATCH YOUR PANORAMIC GIFTS.....THANKS ALOT AND I APPRECIATE YOUR EFFORTS GREATLY"
MUJAHID Z D DADARKAR, Saudi Arabia
"Awesome! Both the panoramic pictures and the appropriately matching background music."
Sanjoy Sanyal, Saint Kitts and Nevis
"As finances prevent me from world travelling, your wonderful Panos are the next best thing1 Kind thanks for generously sharing your excellent work Love and happiness---Nick"
Nick Houser, Canada
Alina, AirPano: Nick, now you don't need money to travel, now you need money for internet!
"Great work, fascinant.Can you send me name the music or musician of Flight to Stratosphere.Thanks"
Jorge baggio, Brazil
Alina, AirPano: Vangelis - "Ask The Mountains"
"I have no words to discrip your work! What you done never, ever disappoint me! You always give us new vision by all kinds of experiments. Just keep on, just go beyond!"
Chen Cheny, China
Alina, AirPano: We will, we will! Thank you, Chen!
Jitendrakumar Vanjara, India
"I mean, could it be possible to include these views in one and the same photo?"
Fabrizio G., Russian Federation
"Impressive! Ïîòðÿñàþùåå! Could more layers of magnification be added so to be able to see images from the first stages of flight (and, accordingly, the ground from closer up)?"
Fabrizio G., Russian Federation
"It s realy wonderful views so I like this experiment."
Ammar Mohammed, Iraq
"You Have Done Divine Job By Taking Akshardham's 360 Degree pics. I Think, Now Loard Swaminarayana Will TackCare Of You."
Soham Patadia, India
"Outstanding! You managed to capture the attention and awe of my already jaded 11 year old (who is too "smart" for her own good). Dont stop what you're doing."
Marie y Marie, USA
"Thank you all for the excellent work done. I use it for my meditation. The music is also good and goes along with meditation.May God keep you all INSPIRED. Haren Barua"
Haren Barua, India
"Amazing. Thank you."
Rodica Vidican, Romania