Czechs spice up a game of geocaching with the flavor of space

Dec 3, 2013
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Thousands of players participated in a quest to locate ‘seeds from space’ after they were released from a balloon 30 kilometers above the ground on 16 November, Technet.cz reports.

This Czech take on geocaching, a widely popular, high-tech treasure hunting game, provided excitement both in space and on the ground, as nearly 13,000 players on Earth tried to locate 12 seeds after watching their ascension into space.

“We are not aware that anyone in the world has connected these two areas [geocaching and space photography],” said coordinator of the game, Ivan Sobička,Technet.cz reports.


Dropion device streamed beautiful footage of its ascension. Image courtesy of Stratocaching Facebook page

Developed by Technet.cz, the game dubbed ‘Stratocaching’ began when a device called Dropion, attached to a stratospheric balloon, set off toward space, carrying seeds to drop from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. While streaming live video to 200,000 viewers, the Dropion device soared to a height of 30 kilometers and released the seeds to fall back to Earth. Ten of the seeds were available for public participants and two others were exclusive to amateur radio clubs to trace them by following their radio signals.

An unexpected challenge occurred when all of the seeds froze at height of 14 kilometers, disabling communications, Lupa reports. Following the error, GPS trackers malfunctioned in some of the seeds and bugs appeared in the smartphone application used for tracing the seeds,Technet.cz reports. As a result, only six out of 10 seeds available for the public have been located, according to the game’s official website.

A Stratocache seed, made of synthetic polystyrene and carbon, is a flying module, designed to mimic a maple seed and glide smoothly and safely to the earth at a rate of about two meters per second, according to the official presentation.

Upon locating the seed, organizers encouraged finders to wait for the next nine game participants to also locate it. While not all the finders received prizes such as smartphones from the seeds’ sponsors, creators of the game awarded all of them with a special souvenir — a geocoin brought back to Earth by the Dropion device after exposing it to space.

Encouraged by this year’s success and the large number of participants, the creators of Stratocaching are planning to hold the game again in the future.

“Existing enthusiasm seems to push us to go on, if possible, without errors,” Sobička said for Lupa.


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Karlo Marinovic

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