Monday, August 22, 2011

First 3-D Video From International Space Station

Half a century after humankind entered outer space, a camera developed by the European Space Agency produced live-streaming 3D images for the first time in the history of space travel – showing the International Space Station like never before.

On August 6th, NASA astronaut Ron Garan operated the Erasmus Recording Binocular (ERB-2) camera to open a new window on the ISS through stereoscopic eyes, in high-definition quality.

As Flight Engineer for Expedition 28 and a video blogger himself, Garan set up the futuristic-looking camera in Europe's Columbus laboratory. While talking about the work on board the ISS, he enhanced the sense of depth and presence by playing with an inflatable Earth globe.

Not much bigger than a shoebox, with high-definition optics and advanced electronics, the ERB-2 is the second generation of ESA's stereoscopic camera family developed by Cosine BV (Leiden, the Netherlands) and Techno System (Naples, Italy).

Video: Stream in 3D showing demo by Astronaut Ron Garan (watch on Youtube, and choose 3D controls to display in different formats for different 3D glasses/TV systems)

On the ground at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, viewers wore polarised glasses similar to those used in cinemas and were amazed by the quality of the images.

Home viewers can choose the 3D glasses or 3D TV format to view the above video on Youtube.

This premiere was a long-awaited commissioning test of the live mode transmission, proving that all systems and procedures are ready to be used for future ERB-2 live-streaming events.

Apart from broadcasting stereo images in real-time for live programmes, ESA's ERB-2 coordinator Massimo Sabbatini dreams about filming extravehicular activities. "The camera could also be used in the future outside the ISS to support the astronauts' spacewalks or other critical robotic operations. This really felt like being in space with an astronaut by your side," he said.

-from ESA

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