A company called UrtheCast is helping Earth-bound commoners view their planet in a way that they have likely never witnessed it before - streamed in high definition, in nearly real time from space.
High-definition streaming video cameras will be installed on the International Space Station for the first time ever in a space venture that involves Canada, Russia and the UK.
"UrtheCast will supply video data and imagery of Earth collected by two HD cameras on the Russian module of the Space Station. This data and imagery will be down-linked to ground stations around the planet and then displayed in real time on the Internet and distributed directly to UrtheCast's exclusive partners and customers," explained UrtheCast.
Live and time-shifted footage of the Earth from space will be viewable on the web, via a smartphone application and an open application program interface (API).
Earth-watchers will be able to constantly track the location of the Space Station on the UrtheCast website, which the company claims "will feel like a blend of Google Earth with the video playback and search functionality of YouTube."
"Users will be able to view Earth from space. It will operate seamlessly with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter," explained Scott Larson, president of UrtheCast.
"The camera will provide a 40 km wide, high resolution, color image down to as close as 1.1 metres," said UrtheCast, close enough for users to pinpoint (and tag for all to see) specific locations and events in time.
The project will be officially launched on June 28 at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Canada. Video data from the two cameras installed on the Space Station will be viewable on the UrtheCast website and partner sites starting from mid 2012.