two students (from MIT, of course) put together a low-budget rig to fly a camera high enough to photograph the curvature of the Earth. Instead of rockets, boosters and expensive control systems, they filled a weather balloon with helium and hung a styrofoam beer cooler underneath to carry a cheap Canon A470 compact camera. Instant hand warmers kept things from freezing up and made sure the batteries stayed warm enough to work.
The balloon and camera made it up high enough to see the black sky curling around our blue planet. ... The intervalometer (interval timer) was set to shoot a picture every five seconds, and the 8-GB memory card was enough to hold pictures for the five-hour duration of the flight.
The picture you see ... was shot from around 93,000 feet, just shy of 18 miles high. To give you an idea of how high that is, when the balloon burst, the beer-cooler took 40 minutes to come back to Earth.
American ingenuity at it's finest!