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Public Laboratory Balloon and Kite Mapping

Main Project Information
Goal Develop, apply open-source tools to environmental exploration.
Task Incorporate these DIY aerial mapping tools in your research.
Where Public Laboratory Balloon and Kite Mapping

This DIY mapping tool was the first developed by Public Lab, as part of the Grassroots Mapping project. Citizens use helium-filled balloons and digital cameras to generate high resolution “satellite” maps of areas such as in the Gulf Coast and Gowanus Canal. Although this tool has been in use for two years, components of the kit -- kite and balloon design, the rig, the camera -- continue to evolve as they are adopted in new places and adapted for new purposes. Besides the aerial mapping tools, Public Lab has also developed, an online tool for stitching aerial images into maps.

As featured in Chapter 2 of Citizen Science by Caren Cooper.

How to Join

Public Lab is an open community (join now!) which investigates environmental issues with DIY tools. To get involved in this project, join the active Grassroots Mapping community by creating a user profile on the Public Lab website, joining the listserve and heading out to map!

Social Media
Expenses $95
Required Gear

This page lists all the materials you need to get your aerial mapping kit together:

Balloon mapping kits are also available for purchase if you don't want to locally source your materials:

Note: The $95.00 kit cost does not include helium

Ideal Age Group Elementary school (6 - 10 years), Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families
Spend the Time outdoors
Type of Activity In oceans, streams, rivers, lakes, While fishing, On a hike, Emergency Response, At home, At the beach, On a walk, run, At school, At a science center, zoo or aquarium
Media Mentions
and Publications
Tags aerial-mapping, balloon-mapping, diy, grassroots-mapping, kite-mapping, open-source, tools
Project Updated 05/23/2018