UK to build video-streaming camera for space

Summary:An Oxford facility will design, test and build the first high-definition streaming camera to be installed on the International Space Station, under a joint venture between the UK, Russia and Canada

The first high-definition streaming video camera to be installed on the International Space Station will be built in the UK, science minister David Willetts has announced.

Space camera

The first high-definition streaming video camera to be installed on the International Space Station will be built in the UK. Photo credit: RAL Space

The project, which aims to provide video of the Earth's surface with a resolution comparable to that of Google Earth, is a joint venture being carried out by the UK, Russia and Canada.

At the UK Space Conference on Monday, Willetts said the HD camera and a medium-resolution counterpart will be designed, built and tested by the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) RAL Space department, at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

"This exciting international project will give people the opportunity to see Earth from an astronaut's perspective, and I'm delighted that British scientists and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are playing such pivotal roles in developing this groundbreaking technology," Willetts said in a statement.

Within a year, the cameras will be installed on the Russian module of the International Space Station (ISS), according to the STFC. The data and imagery collected from them will be displayed in near real-time on the web platform of a Canadian company called UrtheCast (pronounced 'Earthcast').

According to the STFC, it will be possible to zoom the imagery in and out and pan from side to side, and to rewind and fast-forward the videos.

"We feel that the ability to show people what Earth looks like from space, in a near-real time environment, will provide for a significant educational opportunity," UrtheCast president Scott Larson said in the statement. "At the same time, showing people how close we are all connected and responsible for [the] Earth, is obviously something that we continually need to be reminded about."

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Topics: Innovation


David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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