What the Earth really, really looks like is still a mystery to most of us, but we may soon be able to see Earth from space, just the way astronauts do. Canada-based UrtheCast is developing the first HD video streaming platform of Earth. It plans to do this by launching one medium-resolution and one high-resolution camera to space by Soyuz Mission. These will be mounted on the underside of the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

As the station orbits the globe, images of the Earth will be captured by both cameras and stored on board the ISS. The imagery obtained will be downlinked to ground-stations across the planet, processed and streamed to the web in almost real-time. This would let us terrestrial creatures enjoy visuals of the Earth while we sip a cup of coffee, just like the astronauts out in space do.

Never seen before view of 'home'

Never seen before view of 'home'

The firm is setting out on this venture in association with aerospace partners like RSC Energia. With their help, the firm is building, launching, installing and operating two cameras onboard the ISS. The company states that a video of Earth will begin streaming across the world in the first half of this year.

The company stated, “When you begin using the platform, it will feel much like you’re interacting with a mashup of Google Earth and YouTube. You will be able to scroll, pan, zoom, and search your way around the Earth video stream, which will reveal everything from natural wonders of the world to buzzing urban centers.”

Throwing more light on the areas where this will prove to be useful, the company adds that the UrtheCast experience employs the world's first and only near real-time HD video from space. It adds that such content will “generate significant awareness, publicity and user interest” globally. 

App developers will have access to open source Earth video data, and educators will have good quality videos at their disposal. Importantly, such high quality imagery would prove indispensable to those involved in environmental monitoring services and humanitarian relief organisations.

As for some of its other areas of use, the company adds that by using this platform it will be possible to deliver a powerful perspective on big international news stories like the crisis at Fukushima, the public uprising in Tahrir square, or refugee camps in the Sudan. Moreover, it can empower students by offering them a rich educational perspective by letting them view the imagery. It also makes it possible to enhance one's creativity by being able to capture events like flash crowds, innovative wedding proposals, and “the wave” at sporting events.

What it will also do is make a 'singular vantage point' to view events around the world pertaining to the enviroment with relevant, recent video footage of earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, droughts and the effects of environmental change. Importantly, it will also provide a channel for several gaming and cross-platform media applications and partnerships. 

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