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I'm working on project for a high altitude camera suspended from a weather balloon in order to approximately simulate spaceflight. I'm wondering how can I make a camera survive and continue to operate?

For the current tests, it needs to work at altitudes of at least 30-40 km.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Space! This sounds like an interesting project. Can you describe the camera? For example, is it a Raspberry PiCam or a cell phone or a DSLR or a video camera or something else? What does the camera's specifications say? Can you link to a data sheet? What limits in temperature, pressure and and humidity does it require? The more information that you can add to your question, the better people will be able to provide you with a helpful answer. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 16 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ At the moment, we're just planning the whole project, so we don't have any such information. $\endgroup$ – andrei4georgescu Jul 16 at 11:58
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    $\begingroup$ A general price and weight range and wanted functionality of the camera is kind of needed to give a answer. $\endgroup$ – GittingGud Jul 16 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh The Pi camera is great for it's price and accessibility but if I send something towards space I would invest a bit more money and choose a higher quality camera (probably an action cam for the size/weight). If a 120€ action cam can name itself "space cam" with numerous successful stratosphere flights I would assume every action cam (with big enough of a battery) can do the trip. $\endgroup$ – GittingGud Jul 16 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ The main question is the duration of the mission. A few hours in the stratosphere will not cause problems. $\endgroup$ – A. Rumlin Jul 16 at 13:09
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I've used a stock GoPro on a high altitude balloon that made it to 40 km, it recorded the whole way up and down (on external power). So depending on your mass and financial budget you could use this camera.

At the altitude you're working at the most likely problem you'll have would be the camera over heating due to the lack of air reducing its ability to cool itself. This could be solved by over engineering any heat sinks, mounting a large block of aluminium to back of a raspberry pi camera for example.

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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that batteries tend to perform worse when very vold, so having a heat source could be beneficial. It may make sense to "move" the heat from the camera to the battery pack. $\endgroup$ – filo Jul 17 at 15:37
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Here's a few GoPro Hero 4 Blacks powered by Brunton All Day 2.0 battery packs according to The Record Player Built for Space; How an independent record label launched the first vinyl into the stratosphere. The article says that the camera cases (standard GoPro?) were modified to take in audio and prevent fogging.

Don't forget about fogging!

Screenshot from the video Icarus Craft Makes History: First Phonographic Record Played In Space RECAP VIDEO

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There is more about the LP record of the video Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Symphony of Science) (and about playing records in near space) in the question What technical challenges would be playing this LP in (actual) space?


And according to this authoritative answer to How did the tangential thrusters for the 2014 LDSD test spin-up then spin-down so nicely? these are also GoPros. You can even hear the sound at both 120,000 and 180,000 feet (36 and 55 km) and how quiet it gets due to the low pressure.

Don't forget about sound!

enter image description here

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