The three MIT students are doing real remote sensing, but in the cheapest way. No need to buy expensive satellite images to have photos of the earth from the upper atmosphere or near-space. You can do it yourself for under $150.
I visited the students’ Project Icarus website and they said they will be posting a step-by-step illustrated guide on how they did their $150 launch. The guide will be free of charge.

Time-lapse video of the camera’s 93,000 feet journey to near-space: