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The helicopter fell like a stone. It dropped by more than 1,500 metres over Maryland, twisting slightly as the ground grew rapidly closer. Although this was all according to plan, that didn’t settle James Garvin’s nerves. Nor did the realization that his seat belt wasn’t fully fastened — a moment that sent his heart rate skyrocketing.

Then, a mere 6 metres above the ground, the ride got even wilder when the pilots pulled the aircraft out of the fall and climbed skywards, only to fall again. The helicopter dropped ten times that day. And each time, Garvin pointed a camera towards the ground through the open door in an attempt to measure the topography of a rock quarry below — from massive boulders to smooth sheets of sand. Although his interests were hardly terrestrial.

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Category: Science