Street View’s lat­est des­ti­na­tion: the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion

To find the best time to see the sta­tion from your area, check out NASA’s spe­cial web­site

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - PETER HOL­LEY The Wash­ing­ton Post

You’ve used Google Street View to check out a new apart­ment, map traf­fic be­fore you hit the road and search for haunt­ing slices of the ev­ery­day world.

Now, the com­pre­hen­sive ter­res­trial map­ping sys­tem has gone Ex­tra-Ter­res­trial, al­low­ing users to peer in­side the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion (ISS) from their com­puter 248 miles be­low with 360-de­gree, panoramic views.

The Street View im­agery was cap­tured by Thomas Pes­quet, an as­tro­naut with the Euro­pean Space Agency, who spent six months aboard the ISS be­fore re­turn­ing to Earth in June.

Google Street View, which is fea­tured in Google Maps and Google World, was launched in 2007 and quickly ex­panded sites around the globe, in­clud­ing places as re­mote as Mt. Ever­est base camp and as off­beat as Loch Ness. The vast ma­jor­ity of Street View’s pho­tog­ra­phy is shot by a ve­hi­cle, whose move­ment is avail­able to fans on­line.

Google’s foray into space is the first time Street View im­agery was cap­tured be­yond planet Earth.

In a blog post about his ex­pe­ri­ence, Pes­quet wrote that “it was dif­fi­cult to find the words or take a pic­ture that ac­cu­rately de­scribes the feel­ing of be­ing in space.”

“Work­ing with Google on my lat­est mis­sion, I cap­tured Street View im­agery to show what the ISS looks like from the in­side, and share what it’s like to look down on Earth from space,” he added.

The vir­tual tour al­lows users to peek into ar­eas where as­tro­nauts eat, ex­er­cise, work and even bathe.

Pes­quet’s im­agery re­veal an en­vi­ron­ment that may look a bit cramped and chaotic — if not al­to­gether dizzy­ing — to hu­mans an­chored on Earth, but some of the scenes from side the ISS are down­right mes­mer­iz­ing.

The images were cap­tured us­ing DSLR cam­eras and then “stitched to­gether” back on Earth to cre­ate panoramic views.

Pes­quet noted that the ISS is a “busy place” with six crew mem­bers work­ing and re­search­ing 12 hours a day.

“There are a lot of ob­sta­cles up there, and we had limited time to cap­ture the im­agery, so we had to be con­fi­dent that our ap­proach would work. Oh, and there’s that whole zero grav­ity thing,” he wrote.

Float­ing through the ISS on­line you’ll no­tice click­able dots with de­tailed de­scrip­tions of the space and its ob­jects to help view­ers un­der­stand what ex­actly they’re look­ing at. Pes­quet noted that this is the first time an­no­ta­tions — “help­ful lit­tle notes that pop up as you ex­plore the ISS” — have been added to Street View im­agery.

The ISS is a “large space­craft” that or­bits around Earth at more than 17,500 miles per hour and is home for as­tro­nauts from coun­tries around the world, ac­cord­ing to NASA. The ISS is made up of many pieces that were con­structed by as­tro­nauts be­gin­ning in 1998. By 2000, as more pieces of the sta­tion were added, the sta­tion was ready for peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to NASA. Por­tions of the sta­tion are con­nected via mod­ules known as “nodes,” ac­cord­ing to NASA.

“The first crew ar­rived on Nov. 2, 2000,” NASA re­ports. “Peo­ple have lived on the space sta­tion ever since. Over time more pieces have been added. NASA and its part­ners around the world fin­ished the space sta­tion in 2011.”

NASA com­pares the in­side of the sta­tion a house, not­ing that the struc­ture — which weighs al­most one mil­lion pounds and cov­ers an area the size of a foot­ball field — has five bed­rooms, two bath­rooms, a gym­na­sium and a big bay win­dow.

The sta­tion houses labs from the U.S., Rus­sia, Ja­pan and Europe. oceans.” Sev­eral times a week, Mis­sion Con­trol at NASA’s John­son Space Cen­ter in Houston, Texas, deter­mines where earth­lings can spot the sta­tion from the ground be­low from thou­sands of lo­ca­tions all over the globe. To find out the best time to see the sta­tion from your town, go to spot­thes­ta­tion.nasa.gov

COUR­TESY OF GOOGLE MAPS, THE WASH­ING­TON POST

A street view im­age from the Joint Air­lock, an area that con­tains space suits — also known as Ex­trave­hic­u­lar Mo­bil­ity Units. They pro­vide crew mem­bers with life sup­port that en­ables ex­trave­hic­u­lar ac­tiv­ity.

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