The International Space
Station’s High Definition Earth-Viewing (HDEV) payload officially reached end-of-life
Aug. 22, 2019, after delivering live Earth views to more than 318 million
viewers across the globe.
HDEV was delivered to the
International Space Station in the trunk of SpaceX Dragon on April 19, 2014.
Nearly two weeks later, four commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) high definition
video cameras were installed and activated on the External Payload Facility of
the Columbus module on the International Space Station April 30, 2014.
The High Definition Earth-Viewing (HDEV) experiment on the International Space Station has officially reached end-of-life. A continuous loop of previously recorded views from HDEV will continue to stream on available public sites. Future opportunities for utilizing the livestream will be assessed.
The HDEV installation was notable because it was the first large
payload to be delivered and robotically maneuvered from the SpaceX Dragon’s
unpressurized trunk section and installed on the International Space Station. No
spacewalks, crew interaction or extravehicular robotics maintenance was
required for this external payload.
Until HDEV, the International Space Station flew with standard
definition external cameras and internal high definition cameras, which downlinked
a combination of six independent video streams to flight controllers on Earth. HDEV
provided four high definition cameras continuously operating on the exterior that
cycled automatically to provide near-constant live views of the Earth from
space to anyone with an internet connection.
High school students helped design some of the cameras’ components
through the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program.
The four cameras chosen were from Panasonic, Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba.
“It was a new way of getting payloads to station,” said Susan
Runco, co-principal investigator of HDEV. “The payload went from design to delivery
in nine months. We had a truly incredible team that paved the way for this
agile process without compromising safety.”
One of the experiment goals was to evaluate the longevity of COTS
cameras in the space environment. The entire payload was enclosed in a
pressurized box to provide a level of protection to the electronics from the space
environment. Originally anticipated to last one to three years, HDEV surpassed
its life expectancy and operated continuously for five years.
HDEV’s secondary goal was to provide high definition video of
Earth to the public. Over a period of five years, the HDEV Ustream delivered Earth
views to more than 318 million viewers across the world, including students participating in the Columbus Eye Project.
first came online, we were surprised and amazed to learn about the thousands
and thousands of people around the globe who discovered and embraced this
wonderful Earth imagery,” said Carlos Fontanot, co-principal investigator of HDEV. “The fan base grew rapidly and sent in
many comments about the positive impact that it had on their lives, in
classrooms as teaching material and in general as an uplifting and optimistic
view of our home planet.”
In addition to live Internet streaming, HDEV views were used by several
media outlets during hurricanes to deliver unique views of the storms.
Now that the payload has reached end-of-life, a continuous loop of
previously recorded views from HDEV will continue to stream on available public
sites. Future opportunities for using the livestream will be assessed. The
payload itself will be retrieved on a future spacewalk to be loaded onto a
cargo vehicle for a destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere next year.
Learn more about HDEV at: https://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/ESRS/HDEV/