Bryan Chan posted this stunning video on YouTube on September 10th with this explanation: "In June 2013, a group of friends launched a weather balloon a few miles from Tuba City, Arizona. The amazing footage was found two years later by an Arizona hiker. "
Chan's account was too modest, because the footage is a few clicks past amazing. If you're not a big fan of heights, or even if you are, it's breathtaking.
The Daily Dot reported that the students weren't just friends dicking around with high altitude balloons and rigged with GoPros and phones, but "a group of Stanford students" performing "an aerospace-engineering research project."
At the time, it might have seemed like the experiment was a failure. The phone the students attached to the package was meant to aid in tracking it once the whole thing fell to earth, but the desert isn't known for its fantastic cell coverage. The students gave up.
ABC reported that In March, 2015, Pearl Tsosie was hiking the desert when she found the dust-covered rig. Tsosie wisely took the SIM card from the phone to an AT&T store, and the lost equipment was returned.
We're grateful for random hikers in the desert now, too, after watching the awesome video—and grateful it wasn't taken out before it began by some crazed Area 51 enthusiast wielding a drone-killing shotgun.