Investment Boosts Space Station Photography

By  //  September 22, 2013

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Earth, Space Images To be Enhanced

ABOVE VIDEO: NASA photographic archives a series of exceptional still-frame sequences that were shot in Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station.

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – The nonprofit organization managing research on the International Space Station has invested $300,000 to improve on-orbit photography.

A new investment will help upgrade software used in photography from the International Space Station. (Image courtesy of NASA)

It’s expected that The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space’s investment also will enhance Earth images for scientific research and education.

The $300,000 investment will be given to TERC, an education nonprofit which works in collaboration with the Association of Space Explorers.

TERC will enhance and adapt the Windows on Earth software for use by astronauts to replace the current multi-step process for targeting, photographing and geo-referencing images.

EARTH OBSERVATION ESSENTIAL PART OF ISS RESEARCH

Windows on Earth was originally developed by TERC with funding from the National Science Foundation as an educational tool for use in museums and it is currently installed at the National Air and Space Museum, the Boston Museum of Science and several other museums.

Astronaut members of the ASE recognized the potential of the simulation software to assist astronauts on the ISS. In 2008, a beta version was piloted on orbit.

The new investment allows for the full development of the integrated tool for permanent use on the ISS.

“The ISS U.S. National Lab is our Nation’s most unique research platform, and providing high-quality imagery of the Earth and space from this platform for scientific and educational use will greatly increase the potential for finding solutions to some of mankind’s greatest challenges,” said CASIS Interim Executive Director Jim Royston.

“Windows on Earth will provide cutting-edge, next generation tools for the Earth observation program. It will help scientists and astronauts select and photograph targets, and will enhance use of these photographs in research and education.” said Dan Barstow, TERC Principal Investigator for the Windows on Earth project.

CASIS Interim Executive Director Jim Royston says the investment to improve ISS photography benefits all of mankind. (Image courtesy CASIS)

Earth observation is an essential part of ISS science research. This software will provide critically important improvements to current tools by providing more accurate simulations of Earth views from ISS windows and it will automatically link targets selected by scientists on the ground into the on-orbit software.

These improvements will enable astronauts to photograph more high-priority targets and help scientists more readily use the photographs in their research.

In addition to their scientific value, many Earth images are compelling, informative, and engaging resources for education and public use.

ENHANCED PUBLIC ASSESS

To that end, the investment also includes support for enhanced public access to images via a user-friendly portal at Windows on Earth website winearth.terc.edu

These NASA images will be public domain and provided at no cost to users.

The software will be ready for deployment and astronaut use by December 2012.

“The ISS U.S. National Lab is our Nation’s most unique research platform, and providing high-quality imagery of the Earth and space from this platform for scientific and educational use will greatly increase the potential for finding solutions to some of mankind’s greatest challenges,” said CASIS Interim Executive Director Jim Royston.

“The new Windows on Earth software will enable astronauts to photograph many more targeted images than ever before. We are excited to have the opportunity to enable such technology for the benefit of humankind.”


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