It’s out of this world!
With the advent of Google Street View, nosy members of the public were for the first time able to snoop on just about anywhere on the planet. Whether they wanted to look at their own house (because, of course) or check out the Las Vegas strip, all they had to do was log on.
But wait just a minute… What if you want to see something out of this world? No, literally out of this world. Now, you can.
Yes, the powers of Google have just added a brand new ‘off planet’ location to the line-up, and it’s a sight to behold. The latest addition to Google Street View is something that you may never have imagined before now — the International Space Station (ISS).
Thanks to the awe-inspiring 360-degree panoramas, you can now see the inside of the Space Station itself, as well as some astounding views of Earth from above. What’s more, some of the images have little descriptions that pop up when you hover over them.
Each description tells you a little about the equipment that you can see in the ISS. The idea is that you can learn about the system as you take a gander around the many pictures. If you’ve got a spare five minutes, it’s more than worth a look.
How the Heck Did Google Do This?
While Google seems to be able to do pretty much anything, this challenge was one of the hardest yet! The company was not able to have its own photographers jet off into space, and so had to rely on the astronauts already on the ISS.
The team had very basic tools; just some bungee cords and digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras to get the job done. And, since they had to fit this photography project around their busy schedules, the whole thing took a whopping four months to complete.
“Typically, to stitch panoramic images we take a camera and mount it on a fixed mount and rotate it around,” Alice Liu recently explained to the BBC.
“In space there were no tripods, so we ended up using a really simple set-up: a pair of bungee cords strapped in the module in a criss-cross fashion, so that the crossing point defined the centre of where the camera needed to be. The astronauts had to take the pictures at the defined angles and float around the camera to complete the set of images.”
This latest feature was released to mark a massive anniversary; the 48th anniversary of the first manned mission landing on the moon in 1969. Back then, the notion that we’d be using a gadget in the palm of our hand to explore space would have been completely alien. And yet, it’s another small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.