urthecast Coming soon   Near Live HD video of Earth

A Canada-based technology company called UrtheCast will soon be providing near-live HD video of Earth from space. The video will come from 2 cameras mounted on the Russian side of the International Space Station.

Imagine if someone were able to give us the power to see fresh images of the earth from outer space?   Maybe they could give us a 1 meter high-definition resolution with the ability to record videos of different areas we are interested in?  Well, that wait is over – very soon a new website called UrtheCast  will be offering images such as this and best of all it will be available to anyone.

UrtheCast will be providing super HD camera viewing of earth 24/7 from the ISS for all Internet users, educators, and app developers.  The company says that even environmental monitoring services will be using their services to monitor what is happening to our planet in real time. Essentially, UrtheCast is offering a spy satellite for the entire Internet to use.  Is this awesome or what?

UrtheCast is a subsidiary of Earth Video Camera Incorporated, and they will be working with the Russian space agency’s OAO RSC Energia that will be mounting UrtheCast's cameras onto the Russian section of the ISS.  The HD cameras were made by a company out of the United Kingdom called Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and then shipped out to Russia to be launched and attached to the ISS in 2013. 

According to UrtheCast’s website, the cameras will provide live and static images of earth down to a 1 meter resolution. And while the images may be comparable to Google earth, they won’t be years old and they will be seen, at time, with far more clarity. 

The company has also appointed William ‘Mac” Evans, who once served as President of the Canadian Space Agency to its board of directors.  Evans will help the company grow and guide them in the proper direction for the new startup as he is veteran of the Canadian space program and was awarded the prestigious John H. Chapman Award of Excellence during the 16th, 2012 CASI ASTRO Convention held in Quebec City.  Evans, who served 34 years in public service, was instrumental in creating Canada’s Space Agency.

“I was pleased to have been considered for the UrtheCast board, and can’t wait to see what impact we can have upon Earth observation and the Canadian space industry,” said Evans. “I’m looking forward to watching UrtheCast blossom into a major force in the web world of the future.”

The company says the cameras will, logically, only be capable of recording and seeing images as they pass overhead.  The ISS orbits the planet nearly 16 times a day so it may take as long as 3 years before all of the images can be taken.  The company explains that the ISS follows an equatorial orbit with an inclination of nearly 52 degrees.  This states that the cameras are only able to snap images that are 52 degrees latitude, north and south.  Therefore, most countries lying in the far northern hemisphere along with the upper part of Canada will not be available.

UrtheCast says that they will have all of their images kept in a library much different than what Google Earth or Bing Maps has. They will be keeping a catalog of the images collected so an individual can go back and compare all the changes seen on any given region. For example, you could compare Singapore before and after a monsoon, or see the same section of the U.S. in the winter or spring.

There are a few things the company does not explain, and that is how they filter out sensitive regions that are not allowed to be viewed by the public.  For example, there are many military installations and government facilities that are off limits not only from the ground but any aerial images as well.  Area 51 in the Nevada desert is one example.

It will be very interesting to see how popular the site will become in 2013.  UrtheCast could very well become as popular as YouTube, if only for a while.  This will be a wonderful educational tool for the classroom and anyone that is curious about how our earth is changing.  More importantly it may open up the eyes of those who are skeptical about the environmental impact we are making on our fragile planet.