Most of us will never have the chance to float about in the International Space Station and look down on the blue globe and swirling clouds of the Earth below. We mostly settle for stunning photographs. Soon, we'll be able to settle for near-real-time streaming video online.
Canadian company UrtheCast is installing two cameras on the ISS today. Once in operation, they will live-stream high-def footage of the Earth through UrtheCast's Web platform. Basic accounts for taking a peek at the views will be free. Users will also be able to access time-lapse compilations.
UrtheCast plans to broadcast satellite imagery and video for major Earth events and important locations. Account holders can even subscribe to favorite locations. For example, I could get a notice every time new shots of my home state, New Mexico, are logged.
The ISS circles around the planet 16 times each day. The cameras will constantly be on the job, generating up to 150 videos every day, each one about 90 seconds long.
While most people will be content as virtual sightseers, UrtheCast will also offer premium services. Those customers will have the opportunity to order footage from specific areas, request custom mosaic images, or even monitor remote locations.
UrtheCast's videos could quickly become one of the most mesmerizing ways to waste time on the Internet. Think of it as Earth TV, the greatest reality show ever created.