With the SpaceX Dragon 3 capsule that was recently berthed to the ISS, NASA deployed the HDEV (High Definition Earth Viewing) experiment to space. It consists of four of the shelf HD video cameras in a common housing with a video encoder and router.
Today ISSs robotic arm extracted the box from the Dragons unpressurized cargo hold and mounted it outside of the Columbus module.
Live stream showing video of all four cameras in a predefined sequence.
The four cameras are mounted so that one camera is pointing forward into the stations velocity vector, two cameras to the back and one down towards the earth.
The housing insulates the cameras from the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space but will provide no significant shielding against radiation. That’s on purpose as the main reason for the experiment is to find out how none radiation hardened cameras, especially their sensors, will fare in this environment.
The video signal is encoded to a H264 stream for the downlink and broadcasted live on a ustream channel. The stream will show all four installed cameras in a preprogrammed sequence.
This is an interesting contribution in the race towards live satellite maps, several companies are now taking part in, as the possibility to use off the shelf camera would definitely limit the costs for such ventures.