NASA Live: A view that’s out of this world

Date:18 July 2019 Author: Sam Spiller Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The HDEV experiment aims to test cameras in outer space, while also recording wide-range footage of Planet Earth.

Live streaming is everywhere. You can check out real-time footage of everything from cooking to gaming and sporting events. There is also a live stream that is capturing footage like none other and it’s literally out of this world. The footage being captured forms part of NASA’s High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment.

If you open up YouTube and head over to the page of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), you will come across a live feed labeled ‘NASA Live: Earth views from the Space Station’. Watching this feed, you are treated to a full view of Planet Earth from the perspective of the International Space Station.

The station orbits the planet every 90 minutes, which means that a sunrise or sunset can be seen every 45 minutes. The feed may turn black when the station is covered in darkness, but city lights and lightning storms below can sometimes still be seen. Parts of the station itself can also be seen in certain shots.

The experiment was activated on April 30, 2014 when four cameras were fitted to the external hull of the ISS. These cameras are Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS), and they do not have any kind of zoom, pan, or tilt mechanisms to change their points of view. Each camera is housed in a temperature-sensitive case filled with dry nitrogen, which allows it be exposed to space radiation.

One camera is operated at a time. They are on a repeated cycle of focusing and target specific points of the Earth’s surface as they rotate. The whole system is designed to be self-sufficient and requires little to no maintenance.

The footage captured by HDEV is not stored on the ISS. Rather, it is immediately transmitted to a facility back on Earth. There it is continuously analysed and compared to previous footage which then illustrates the quality of the video being captured, as well as the longevity of these cameras when used in outer space.

The HDEV system was developed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas with the help of students from selected high schools. These students are expected to help oversee the experiment themselves.

You can check out the NASA Live feed here.

Image: NASA

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