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Strap In For The Best View On Earth

The ambitious project to create a real time view of Earth from space

Michael Cruickshank
Strap In For The Best View On Earth© 2018 The Satellite

The hit film, Gravity by Alfonso Cuaron, wowed us all with its photo realistic views of Earth seen from space. But as much as this film was groundbreaking, its images were nonetheless artistic depictions of what Earth could look like when viewed from above.

Now however, an ambitious new project calling itself “The Satellite” is looking to create something much more advanced. Their project envisages creating a software program which can generate a high definition, photorealistic video feed of what Earth would look like at any given time, when seen from the orbiting height of the International Space Station (ISS).

In order to do this, they plan to gain access to the huge amounts of data being collected every minute by geo-monitoring satellites, already in place in orbit around the earth. This data, on things like day/night cycles, cloud patterns, auroras, etc, would then be analysed and rendered in real time over up to date satellite imagery of the world.

This display, will enable viewers to recreate the feelings of awe  felt by astronauts when they first view Earth from space.

Once this software has been created, the team behind The Satellite wants to build an ambitious installation to display this visualisation in 3D. To achieve this, they plan to make use of 6 high-resolution projectors to beam the images created of Earth onto a huge curved screen. This display, they hope, will enable viewers to recreate the feelings of awe and oneness felt by astronauts when they first view Earth from space.

Despite these obviously artistic ambitions, The Satellite is keen to explain that they do not consider what they are creating an “artwork”.  Rather, they see it as a collaborative public effort to “discover different perspectives and prompt a new chapter of public discourse about our home, planet Earth”.

While this certainly may be a cool idea, they may have already been one-upped by NASA itself. Earlier this year, the space agency attached not one, but four HD cameras to the ISS as part of its HD Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment. Footage from these cameras can be live streamed over the internet, providing internet users with a never before seen, and completely unique view of Earth from space.

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