This is something really special, and everyone should know about it, and so I’m doing my part and sharing it here but please feel free to pass it along yourself as well. We now have publicly-accessible, high-definition video of our planet coming in live from the Space Station, thanks to the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment aboard the ISS. Activated April 30 of this year, HDEV consists of four cameras contained within a single housing mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. When the experiment is running these cameras take actual video of the planet as the ISS passes overhead in real time (not a recording or time-lapse) which is simultaneously aired live online FOR EVERYONE TO SEE.
It’s beautiful, it’s mesmerizing, it’s fascinating (when it’s on, of course) and you really just need to see it for yourself.
Check out the live video here, or you can watch the Ustream feed right here on LITD below:
Now the HDEV experiment is not always running 24/7, and so sometimes there will only be a grey or black screen. If an image doesn’t show up in a few seconds, chances are it’s either off or in an area where there’s no signal. So bookmark it, and check back often. (I promise it works!) When it is on it’s really amazing to watch — and I strongly suggest full-screen!
Between camera switches, a gray and then black color slate will briefly appear. Since the ISS is in darkness during part of each orbit, the images will be dark at those times. During periods of loss of signal with the ground or when HDEV is not operating, a gray color slate or previously recorded video may be seen. (HDEV Ustream page)
In addition to providing an astronaut’s-eye-view of Earth, the HDEV experiment has scientific and educational uses as well. According to the mission objectives, “analysis of the effect of space on the video quality, over the time HDEV is operational, may help engineers decide which cameras are the best types to use on future missions. High school students helped design some of the cameras’ components, through the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program, and student teams operate the experiment.” Nice job, kids!
HDEV is scheduled to run until October 2015, so if all works out we’ll have lots of great video of Earth from orbit. (Someone needs to program this into a screensaver!)
If you want to see the feed alongside a map of where the ISS is passing over, visit the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth site here, and you can always find out the exact current location and altitude of the ISS on ISSTracker.com here and also on ISS AstroViewer.