Imagine that you're having a party, wedding or some other event. Wouldn't it be neat if you could have your event photographed from space?
That might sound crazy, but that's exactly what UrtheCast is promising. Using cameras attached to the International Space Station (ISS), Urthecast will record your event from space.
The company has a high-resolution 1.1-meter video camera and a 5.5-meter camera installed on the ISS. Those cameras are constantly snapping photos of Earth, shooting over 3 million square miles as the ISS orbits around the planet 16 times per day. That results in a lot of daily video, all of it stored forever.
The company is already broadcasting that footage in almost real-time on Ustream and will offer services soon for mobile platforms.
So how do you get footage of your event from space? After signing up on UrtheCast's website, you will choose to follow a location. UrtheCast will alert you when the ISS will be flying above that specific area and afterwards, you'll have video of that event.
But just how detailed are the images? Well, obviously, individual people probably won't show up, but the company explains that if you have a large group in white t-shirts clumped together, that will be evident in the footage. The company also explains that the cameras can capture photos of farms with enough detail to tell what crops they're growing.
Of course, there are some caveats to the service. The cameras only cover a part of the planet. If you live in the northern parts of North America, Europe and the UK, the service isn't available to you.
UrtheCast, however, serves another purpose. It offers the world's first high-definition live streaming video footage of the planet from the ISS.
"Imagine you have a nearly live Google Earth, but it isn't four year old data - you have data that is being refreshed all the time, with videos coming down over interesting areas where interesting events are going on, showing you what is changing, what is going on," says George Tyc, Chief Technology Officer at UrtheCast. "What we really hope to pull off is to change the paradigm, get the everyday person interacting and seeing the data coming down from space to see the Earth and how it is evolving over time in a way that isn't available right now."
UrtheCast is also being used by DeforestACTION's Earthwatchers in its fight against deforestation. Volunteers get assigned areas of rainforest to watch via Urthecast's footage, reporting any changes that could be the result of deforestation.
[Photo Credit: Urthecast]