Appeal after spaceman goes missing 110,000ft over Leicester (VIDEO)
This tiny spaceman is missing in action after being launched 20 miles into the stratosphere attached to a weather balloon.
Engineer Shaun Whitehead sent up the 6in high figure as part of an experiment which involved taking pictures of the edge of space.
However, while the equipment floated down to Earth, landing in Leicestershire, the miniature astronaut – nicknamed Mojo Man – was nowhere to be found.
He is believed to have plummeted to the ground somewhere near Leicester, just moments after these pictures were taken.
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Mr Whitehead, who has been involved in several high-profile space missions, including the Beagle 2 mission to Mars and the BepiColombo mission to Mercury, said: "I've always wanted to try putting something up to take pictures on the edge of space.
"I wanted to have a bit of fun as part of the experiment and decided to put him up there to have his picture taken with the black of space and the curvature of the Earth behind him."
The tiny figure was launched as part of the payload on Saturday from Walsall by Mr Whitehead and his wife Alison.
The location was chosen based on weather measurements as it was expected the prevailing wind would bring the spaceman and his equipment back to Leicestershire.
It reached a height of about 110,000ft (20 miles) where the temperature is -55C and there is hardly any atmosphere – less than 1 per cent of the pressure at the Earth's surface.
The helium-filled weather balloon was designed to blow up when it reached a certain altitude where there is virtually no atmospheric pressure, causing the balloon to swell to about seven metres and burst.
The payload, including electronic equipment and a hi-tech mini camera, was designed to float harmlessly down on a parachute but it is thought a piece of cord separated the spaceman from the rig.
The spaceman, dressed in an aluminium foil suit, with a small clear plastic ball for a helmet, was mounted on a CD of – appropriately enough – The Planets Suite, by Gustav Holst.
Mr Whitehead, of Grimston, near Melton, said: "The rest of the payload finally landed north of East Goscote where a kind gentleman allowed us into his field to recover it.
"Sadly, there was no sign of the 'astronaut'. Having reviewed the flight, we see he was knocked from his perch by the bursting balloon shortly after these pictures were taken, and presumably plummeted somewhere around Leicester.
"I'd be very interested to recover him. I wanted to test the system for a future project. It has got a serious scientific purpose, which remains confidential.
"I have more than two hours of video recorded and I was able to receive text messages from the payload telling me where it was.
"It was an experiment in how to do something simple but effective and not hugely expensive."
Anyone who finds the spaceman is asked to contact the Mercury on 0116 222 4241.