Colin Rich builds mini-spaceships out of styrofoam, foil, modified off-the-shelf cameras and weather ballons that carry them to the edge of space. For his third craft, the payload included sensors to measure radiation from Fukushima and pollution. It's hipster NASA.
After Rich's prior two launches, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy asked Rich to test whether he could launch sensors to measure high-atmosphere levels of black carbon, a key contributor to global warming. The Pacific Star III traveled 200 miles east into the Mojave Desert during its flight, topping out at 131,000 feet.