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Planet Earth debuts its close-up

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 01:00

Space company Urthecast brings Earth into sharper focus with state-of-the-art cameras mounted aboard the International Space Station. Display (no reporter narration).

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DISPLAY (NO REPORTER NARRATION) It's a spectacular sight, and the view of Earth from space just got even better. While cameras aboard the International Space Station (ISS) provide a view of Earth for anyone with a television or computer screen and Google Earth allows users to zoom in, Canadian company UrtheCast has taken the technology into a new realm. UrtheCast has just released the world's first HD color videos of cities around the world like Boston, London, São Paulo and Barcelona from the ISS in space using their high-resolution HRC camera, Iris. They also have a medium-resolution camera, Theia, that takes color photos from space. Russian cosmonauts took a spacewalk in January outside the ISS to complete the camera work on the Earth-observing cameras. Expedition 38 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency went outside the space station to install the cameras on the hull of the station's Zvezda Service Module. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, agreed to host the cameras on the $100 billion station for UrtheCast, a project of 15 countries, in exchange for rights to use images and video taken over Russia. UrtheCast has commercial rights to images and video of the rest of the world. The space company was founded by Wade Larson, a veteran of the Canadian space sector for almost two decades. He installed the cameras on the space station to provide a stream of live video, not just of generic Earth, but of specific events as they unfold below. The company and the Russian portion of the ISS mounted two HD cameras on the space station. The cameras, which were manufactured for the project by British-based space company Rutherford Appleton Labs, is capable of zooming in to reveal countries, deserts and oceans around the world in unprecedented detail. One of the cameras provides a 24-hour live stream while the other has the ability to zoom into an area of one square meter in high definition. The space station orbits the Earth fifteen times a day. A constant stream of video has made major events on earth viewable from space as they take place. The cameras were fully installed on the space station in January. UrtheCast says it will make the cameras commercially available to anyone who wants to use them, from governments and non-profit organizations, to businesses and universities. For example, a real-time view of Earth will give scientists a powerful tool to monitor climate change.

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Planet Earth debuts its close-up

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 01:00