International Space Station preps real-time video feed of Earth

Michelle Clancy | 14-01-2013

The International Space Station is prepping a real-time, high-resolution free video feed of Earth to go live this autumn, marking the first time streaming video of the Earth will be available from an orbiting satellite.

The stream is being developed by a Canadian company dubbed UrtheCast (pronounced 'earth-cast'), and will be able to zero in on happenings with a resolution of 1 metre and a delay of between one hour to 90 minutes, according to That's sharp enough to make out groups of people, buildings, trees, roads and fields, but not individual faces or figures.

The company plans to make the videos part of a searchable library, and also to use them to create 3D models of cities to click through and explore. It's also opening up an API for developers to make apps using the functionality.

"When you begin using the platform, it will feel much like you're interacting with a mash-up of Google Earth and YouTube," the company explained. "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 centres."

To make it all happen, one medium-resolution and one high-resolution camera will be launched to space by the Soyuz Mission and mounted to the underside of the Russian segment of the Space Station.