Friday, 9 May 2014

Astronaut's view of Earth

The world’s biggest and most spectacular reality show is now available on a laptop, tablet or TV screen near you.

Live pictures from Earth orbit can now be viewed by anyone with an internet connection thanks to NASA’s latest experiment on the International Space Station (ISS).

The High Definition Earth Viewing Experiment (HDEV) started its round-the-clock broadcasts on 30 April and will stream video of Earth from the orbiting Space Station until October 2015.

Footage of Earth is captured by four cameras attached to the outside of the ISS as part of an experiment to evaluate whether commercially available cameras can survive the harsh conditions of space, particularly high levels of radiation.

The cameras - enclosed in a pressurised box containing dry nitrogen to mimic atmospheric pressure on Earth - are mounted on the External Payload Facility of ESA’s Columbus module.

NASA hopes it will be able to use similar, commercially available HD video cameras on future space missions as this will likely be more cost-effective than designing new products.

Video from these cameras is transmitted back to Earth and then streamed live on this ustream tv link - with views typically sequencing though the different cameras.

Viewers should also be aware that this is real space so there is no sound (in space no one can hear you scream) and there are a few quirks to be aware of (please do no adjust your set).

Between camera switches, a grey and then black colour slate briefly appears and, since the ISS is in darkness during part of each orbit, pictures at those times will be dark.

Also, during periods of loss of signal with the ground, or when HDEV is not operating, a grey colour slate or previously recorded video may be seen.

And remember, because the Space Station orbits Earth every 90 minutes there is a sunrise or sunset every 40 minutes.

Analysis of this experiment will be conducted to assess the effects of the space environment on the equipment and video quality which may help decisions about cameras for future missions.

For your own astronaut’s view of Earth plus a display of the real time ISS location, click this link -

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