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Canadian company UrtheCast is preparing to launch the world’s first and only near real time HD video cameras from space at the end of this year. These cameras will significantly affect scientific research and education. Two cameras built by the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratories (RAL) will be installed on the Russian module of the International Space Station. The first camera is a fixed medium resolution lens that can see objects up to 5 meters tall. The second one is a high definition camera that can identify items up to 1 metre in height. In fact, the second camera be adjusted and controlled through co-ordinates.


This space station has the power of travelling at 26,000 km per hour, orbiting the Earth 16 times a day and can be seen by normally. Till now this is the largest space project till now. The cameras were originally commissioned as a way to give the Russian Federal Space Agency publicity. But anyhow development of the cameras didn’t happen. So, these cameras were send to UrtheCast president Scott Larson. Larson had previous experience working with Russian space. Since then, Scott Larson is working on this project from Vancouver, but UrtheCast has more teams in Calgary, San Francisco, Russia and the UK to co-operate Larson.

“Astronauts say that when they go up into space and they look down at the earth – it changes them. When they come back they’re different from when they went up,” Scott Larson said. “Being able to see how icebergs are moving, forests are changing and animals are migrating – seeing how we interact with the planet – that is going to be the coolest thing that comes out of the project.”

The HD camera’s can not only capture high definition footage, but also it can manipulate the lens angles for a desired geographical location. According to Larson, these cameras will be manually adjusted and ‘scheduled’ based on international conversation fueled by social media. It means, you will be able to see both images of a particular place or specific incident. One image(s) is taken from the ground (as usual) and another image(s) is taken by the controllers at UrtheCast’s operations station in Vancouver from above. So, when you are searching for that same particular place or specific incident, you will be able to see both the local perspective and the scene from above.

The fact of this camera are, there is a minor delay in the streaming. It takes time for compressing the image, downlinked to various reception stations around the globe and transmitting these data to the operations center. These cameras can pick up city lights and fireworks, but are not equipped with night vision. The possibilities of the cameras are vast, unique and exciting and open doors for science, education and social commentary in new ways.

The basic platform will be available to the public for free and additional data will be sold to governments and outside companies. For more information, click here.

Source : Toronto Standard

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