A British teen has captured stunning images of earth from space with little more than a camera bought off eBay for $50 and a balloon.

University of Nottingham student Adam Cudworth’s photos were taken with a Canon A570 camera he bought off eBay 18 months ago.

The 19-year-old says he spent roughly 40 hours fashioning his photography device, which is made up of the camera, balloon and a box containing a GPS tracker, radio and microprocessor. He also put a small video camera in the box, along with two temperature sensors and two solar panels.

Cudworth attached a high-altitude latex balloon with a parachute to the box. He calls his contraption HABE 5, which stands for High Altitude Balloon Experiment 5.

The enterprising student attempted similar projects on four previous occasions, dating back to HABE 1 in 2011.

HABE 5 was launched on Aug. 31 and reached an astonishing altitude of 33,592 metres – three times the height a commercial plane travels at.

After floating up into the earth’s stratosphere for two-and-a-half hours, Cudworth’s device started to record breathtaking images of the planet from space.

The photos, posted to Cudworth’s Flickr account, document HABE 5’s ascent, with the first few pictures showing aerial views of grassy fields. The images progress into photos of the cloud-covered planet.

The photos taken from the highest altitude show stark white and blue clouds covering earth, radiating out into the black atmosphere.

A built-in circuit board allowed Cudworth to record the HABE 5’s speeds, G-force and altitude at all times.

The teen based in Worcester, a city about 200 kilometres northwest of London, also used the GPS tracker to follow the camera’s progress and used the radio transmitter to find it when it fell back to earth.

After the balloon burst, HABE 5 landed just 50 kilometres from Cudworth’s home in the town of Broadway.

He said he was stunned at the quality of the images and video HABE 5 managed to capture.

Cudworth estimates he spent around $300 total on his project, proof that it doesn’t take NASA’s millions to go into space, he said.

Cudworth, who is studying economics in school, said the idea came to him in 2009 after seeing others attempt a similar project.

Cudworth says he has no background in astrophysics, but describes himself on his website as a “Nottingham University studying economics. Exploring near space with high altitude balloons. Trading FX. Creating innovative solutions to everyday problems. Striving to make a change.”

Cudworth is now working on a new project which will allow him to control where the box lands as it falls back to earth.