Sicilian Space Programme sends pastry into stratosphere
Project costing upwards of €300 saw cannolo rise almost 30km above Earth’s surface
A group of Sicilian amateur scientists have launched a model cannolo, the typical pastry roll symbolic of the Italian island, into the stratosphere.
The ricotta-stuffed treat was affixed to a home-made spacecraft called the ‘Cannolo Transporter’, made from recycled materials and equipped with two cameras and a GPS tracker.
The ‘Sicilian Space Programme’, which cost approximately €350 euro, has symbolic importance as well as being a scientific feat, natives of the island town of Enna said.
Filmaker Fabio Leone who recorded the project along with Antonella Barbera said the team had wanted to “lift up Sicily”, often associated with negative issues such as the mafia and unemployment.
The Cannolo Transporter rose to at least 29,768 metres according to calculations by Paolo Capasso a computer technician responsible for the most technical aspects of the launch.
As an edible cannolo would be unlikely to survive the voyage, the group made a polymer clay version of the cherry-studded pastry with a modelling material that can be hardened in an oven.
To get the go ahead from aerospace regulators, the craft had to weigh less than 2kg kilos, qualifying it for official permits to fly into high altitude.
Online high altitude flight simulators allow enthusiasts to calculate the likely course of their balloon by matching weight, model, gas type and weather data.
The Cannolo Transporter took off at 8:20 on Sunday February 2 and experienced temperatures of -16 degrees as it flew through the clouds.
Atmospheric pressure decreased as the Cannolo Transporter travelled closer to the stars. The balloon expanded with the lower pressure until it eventually burst, causing the craft to tumble back to earth, its fall eased by a small parachute.
Winds buffeted the craft in a zig-zag pattern above the Italian island, before it came down in fields near the village of Bompietro, about 25 kilometres from the launch site.
The flight of the Cannolo Transporter lasted some two hours, made up of a relatively slow ascent and a rapid fall to earth.
To find it, the team had to trek across hilly farmland and through muddy lanes blocked by sheep.