Mark Rober, former NASA scientist and youtuber, dropped an egg from the Earth’s stratosphere—almost into “space”—and it didn’t break when it hit the ground. But how?
It took three years (and a lot of broken eggs) to come up with the perfect design for a safe landing. And the creators joke: “Next year, we’ll do it on Mars.”
Robert often shares daring and curious scientific experiments on his YouTube channel. The “super egg” was published on November 25th and has already accumulated almost 26 million views.
A camera coupled to the system shows the path of ascent to the stratosphere and return to Earth.
Rober said that the initial plan was to knock the egg off the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. The 160-story skyscraper is over 800 meters tall — but that still seemed too low for the eccentric genius.
So how about our planet’s stratosphere? “Humans are always building taller buildings, and if I really wanted to prove this record in the future, I realized I needed to go all the way to the top and straight into outer space.”
Launching an egg from the sky, without it freezing and, mainly, reaching the ground in one piece, was quite a challenge. The original idea was to use only gravity: the egg was attached to the tip of a rocket-shaped vehicle and taken to an altitude of about 30 km, with the help of a weather balloon. The “rocket” would then release him in free fall, towards a mattress on the ground.
But it did not work. After several failed attempts, Rober decided to reformulate the scheme.
Remembering that even the most fragile objects can become super-resistant when we talk in terms of physics. Newton’s third law — popularly the “law of action and reaction” — considers that for every force applied to a body, there is a force of the same intensity in the opposite direction.
Robert used this to his advantage. After many tweaks over the three years of the study, the team optimized the system, with help from Adam Steltzner, NASA expert engineer. For the fall, they designed a parachute structure made from scrap nylon. Instead of a mattress, the egg would gain a protective armor made with inflatable pillows – inspired by the airbags of the space agency’s Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers.
Finally, it was a success. The egg arrived in one piece on the ground – to the delight of scientists and Internet users.
On YouTube, funny comments accumulate: “The time has come for Mark to create his own rocket company, called SpaceEggs”, says one. And another: “Imagine the egg hatching a chick and becoming the first chicken in space.”