STFC Built Cameras to offer the first ever near-live images of Earth

Nov 28, 2013
RAL Space Imaging Systems with the high resolution UrtheCast camera before it shipped to Moscow for integration with the ISS interface. Credit: ESA)

For the first time ever users across the globe will be able to view recent scenes and events on Earth from Space thanks to the launch this week of two new cameras built by STFC RAL (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) Space.

A Soyuz Rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday with a payload to rendezvous with the International Space Station. On board were two cameras designed, built and tested at STFC RAL Space as part of the Urthecast project to install a high and medium resolution camera on the Russian module of the International Space Station. They are scheduled to arrive at the on Friday, 29th November and be installed during December.

RAL Space Engineers involved in the project, Ian Tosh, Tom Morse and Ed Jones, were at the Cosmodrome to watch the launch on Monday. Ian's video of the launch can be viewed on our YouTube site.

RAL Space Imaging Systems have designed, built and tested the two cameras. They will be installed on the Russian module of the International Space Station later this year. RAL Space worked with the Canadian-based company UrtheCast (pronounced 'Earth Cast') to develop the two cameras that will provide the first ever near-live images of Earth once fully operational.

The medium resolution camera (MRC) is essentially a modified version of RALCam3, an existing and reliable camera. The MRC will be pointed directly down and take continuous images of Earth in 45km swaths at a resolution of 5m per pixel.

The second and most exciting camera is a high resolution video camera (HRC) mounted on a steerable platform. The RAL Space cameras interface with the data handling electronics, built by MDA in Canada, which pass the data through the ISS systems down to the ground where Urthecast make the images available for streaming to their customers and to the public. With a resolution of 1m per pixel individual vehicles could be viewed by this .

The HRC can also be controlled to continuously aim at a single point on the Earth's surface as the ISS passes overhead which allows the HRC to generate a video stream instead of single images. People will be able to track natural and man-made changes such as seasonal variations, congestion, natural disasters and deforestation in near real-time and over the course of many months and years. UrtheCast will build a catalogued archive of footage and images for public access, creating a utility for education and environmental awareness.

Explore further: Countdown to the galactic census: Europe's billion-star surveyor is ready for launch

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World's first 'live' video feed of Earth from space

Jul 05, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The world's first high definition streaming video camera to be installed on the International Space Station (ISS) has been announced by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science ...

Happy birthday, space station

Nov 20, 2013

The International Space Station celebrates its birthday today, 15 years after the first module was launched in 1998.

Recommended for you

Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

5 hours ago

Bad weather will delay the launch of a Japanese space probe on a six-year mission to mine a distant asteroid, just weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world.

Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

14 hours ago

Computer Scientists from The University of Manchester have boosted NASA space missions by pioneering a global project to develop programs that efficiently test and control NASA spacecraft.

ESA image: The gold standard

14 hours ago

The Eutelsat-9B satellite with its EDRS-A payload is shown in the anechoic test chamber of Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, having completed its final antenna pattern tests today.

Frost-covered chaos on Mars

14 hours ago

Thanks to a break in the dusty 'weather' over the giant Hellas Basin at the beginning of this year, ESA's Mars Express was able to look down into the seven kilometre-deep basin and onto the frosty surface ...

Rosetta's comet: In the shadow of the coma

21 hours ago

This NAVCAM mosaic comprises four individual images taken on 20 November from a distance of 30.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. The image resolution is 2.6 m/pixel, so each original 1024 x 1024 pixel ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

FMA
not rated yet Nov 29, 2013
The picture is very interesting !! :p

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.