Google has decided to go way beyond the roads, monuments and tours of national parks and other famous landmarks. This time they have added one more thing to offer to their users and it it is the best thing ever – the International Space Station. According to the last week’s announcement, Google Street View will now be available in the cabin of the space station where you are going to be able to gaze at Earth or see what the astronauts are up to.
The new imagery provides a 360-view of the entire ISS with perhaps the most interesting being the absolutely amazing views of the Earth. You could also choose to wander around the station and pretend you are one of the crew.
According to Google: “The International Space Station is a marvel of modern science and engineering. Astronauts have occupied the pressurized modules for over 16 years, and now you can explore their work and living spaces in Google Street View. From the research to the ‘orbital outhouse’ to the inspirational views back down to Earth from the cupola.”
They go on to comment further and say: “The Cupola (named after the raised observation deck on a railroad caboose) is a small module designed for the observation of operations outside the ISS such as robotic activities, the approach of vehicles, and extravehicular activity (EVA). It was built in Europe by Thales Alenia Space Italy (TAS-I) under contract of the European Space Agency. It provides spectacular views of Earth and celestial objects. The Cupola has six side windows and a direct nadir viewing window, all of which are equipped with shutters to protect them from contamination and collisions with orbital debris or micrometeorites. The Cupola is designed to house the robotic workstation that controls the ISS’s remote manipulator arm. It can accommodate two crew members simultaneously and is berthed to the Earth facing side of Node-3 using a Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM).”
They also explained the process of actually doing the imagery that we get to see through the Street View: ‘’First off we need to actually drive around and photograph the locations to show in Street View. We pay close attention to many factors, including the weather and the population density of various areas, to determine when and where we can collect the best possible imagery. To match each image to its geographic location on the map, we combine signals from sensors on the car that measure GPS, speed, and direction. This helps us reconstruct the car’s exact route, and even tilt and realign images as needed.’’