I know I'll never get a chance to step a floating foot on the International Space Station, but I can at least tap into the spectacular views with a new live-streaming video offering from NASA. The High Definition Earth Viewing experiment involves cameras mounted outside the station. It is fed to all us earthlings on the Ustream website.
The stream was supposed to be up and running a few days back, but ran into some technical difficulties. That has now been resolved, and the video is pouring in. The images are fascinating, showing a silently rotating marble of blue below, mottled with clouds.
Occasionally, the image goes gray, which just means it's switching between cameras. When the image is black, the ISS is on the night side of Earth. All you have to do is wait a little bit for things to lighten back up. There's no audio because, in space, no one can hear you scream. Just kidding, the no-audio is by design. It's quiet out there in space. NASA suggests you make up your own soundtrack.
Off to the side of the video feed is a box that contains a social stream of sometimes entertaining comments by other viewers. You might see someone opine about feeling like Sandra Bullock or welcoming everyone to the dark side when the screen goes black.
The video experiment isn't just for our viewing pleasure. NASA will be keeping an eye on how the space exposure impacts the equipment to help guide decisions on cameras for future missions. No matter the purpose, it's extremely cool to get a continuous astronaut's-eye view of our humble planet from on high.