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4K makes footage from the ISS even more incredible

1 minute read

NASA/UrthecastThe new Urthecast UHD camera on the ISS

As you know, we do enjoy a bit of space-related eye-candy here at RedShark, but NASA (and others) have just raised the bar impressively with the introduction of 4K imagery.

The 4K content is being uploaded to the ReelNASA YouTube site and, at the moment, there’s a single 3.55 of Reel 1 there. It is probably though one of the best ways you can spend 3.55 of you life, certainly if it involves sitting in front of a computer screen, and it the best space imagery we’ve seen outside of IMAX.

NASA is highlighting both the research boost that higher resolutions will bring to the observation of science experiments in space and the fact that it will also “bestow the most breathtaking views of planet Earth and space station activities ever acquired for consumption by those still dreaming of making the trip to outer space,” (which is us, frankly).

More content is promised soon, and it looks like we might even be getting some 60fps material down the pipe.

Indeed, there is a fair bit of extra-terrestrial Ultra HD going on at the moment with the long-delayed commissioning of Canadian company UrtheCast’s latest 4K unit to the camera array on the ISS (pictured above).

The camera, called Iris, is mounted on a biaxial pointing platform to allow for the tracking of targeted areas by an operator. It uses a CMOS detector to capture full colour, 4K images at 3fps with a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) as fine as 1 metre and a duration of up to 60 seconds before the ISS whizzes on overhead.

In fact it was was one of two installed on the Russian segment of the ISS by cosmonauts back in January 2014. A medium-res camera, which has a GSD of five meters per pixel, entered commercial service last year, but problems with the pointing platform for Iris delayed its entry into service until now.

Commercial service? Yes, the ISS represents easily the most expensive real estate in the world and NASA gains some significant extra funding by renting bits of it out to operators.

Anyway, you can see the fruits from some of Iris’ efforts here http://gallery.urthecast.com


Tags: Technology