Invasion Of The Geo-Aliens

Today a UFO landed in my front yard … Inside the long, shiny transporter was a tiny, green being from across the galaxy.

Thankfully, he speaks Geo, otherwise I’d never be able to ask him about his recent travels.

That visitor was Helium the Alien TB4QEMY), better known as It’s Not About The Numbers’ representative onboard Scott Cole’s second geocache in space attempt, aka LEIF MMXII (Low Earth Inter-orbital Flight).

Joining him on this weather balloon-tethered vessel were 13 other travel tags, each sponsored by likeminded geocachers to help the American geocacher raise the US$1000 (NZ$1200) to finance his Kickstarter project.

Cole (GC handle: e6c or Echo Six Charlie) says the June 23rd liftoff from North Carolina’s Gilliam-McConnel Airfield was “a complete success” with more than 44 people attending the launch (GC3M45Z). “LEIF went more than 30 kilometres high and travelled 67km east. The entire flight time was one hour and 46 minutes. LEIF spent 57 minutes going up (an average of almost 34kmh) and came down in 49 minutes (almost 39kmh).”

In comparison, his first attempt at intergalactic geocaching, (GC2JPJK) Sputnik 2010, “went to about the same height and flew for about the same amount of time but it travelled much farther east, going 193km”.

He explains that this difference was due to the jet stream, a band of high-speed winds in the upper atmosphere that marks the boundary between cold polar air from the north and warm tropical air from the south. “Sputnik 2010 was launched in December when the jet stream was coming right across North Carolina, in contrast, LEIF MMXII was launched in June when the jet stream was absent.”

Cole has since commerated the landing spot with a traditional geocache (GC3P578 LEIF MMXII: Geocache From Space!!) – as he did with his first spacecraft (GC2JPJJ) – edited video footage from the flight’s onboard camera and sent his geo-travellers packing. Despite the fun of building and launching LEIF, he’s not planning to a third voyage anytime soon.

“My wife was very worried that LEIF was going to land on someone’s head or property and that we were going to be sued. She was so nervous about this that she could not sleep the night before. While LEIF managed to not do any damage when it landed [see image below], it did come to a stop less than 60m from a major highway; I am sure some drivers must have seen it as it was coming down.”

However, Cole hopes both of his geo-missions will encourage others to attempt similar feats. “If anyone needs some advice I am more than willing to help, just send me a message through my Geocaching.com profile. I have already received emails from four different groups that are thinking about doing this project. I am more than willing to share my knowledge and help out in any way I can.”

But first check out, data recorded from the flight … If you watch right through to the end, you’ll also see It’s Not About The Numbers mentioned.

*To see or hear more about Scott Cole’s project, check out this video by HeadHardHat, or these podcasts by Cache-A-Maniacs and PodCacher.


1 comment

  1. Larry Butler

    About 3 years ago or so, I also got this same idea and mentioned it to a few geocaching friends who just Laughed at me and said I was crazy. Maybe so but it is fun being crazy. Only thing that stopped me from doing this was the Money to do it. My Idea was to just put a tracker on it cost about 100.00 and sign up online for tracking service cost about 10.00 a month. Release a bunch of Balloons and hope for the best where it lands. I could not convince my wife we could afford to lose a couple hundred Dollars in case something went wrong. I love it that you have done this and made it successful. Great Job and I am Jealous.

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